Getting Better All the Time
To keep ahead, each one of us, no matter what our task, must search for new and better methods—for even that which we now do well must be done better tomorrow.
—James F. Bell
Staying Focused on Doing Our Part to Keep Pushing Forward Together
By James F. Gesualdi
Think your way through difficulties: harsh conditions can be softened, restricted ones can be widened, and heavy ones can weigh less on those who know how to bear them.
Times of stress and difficulty are seasons of opportunity when the seeds of progress are sown.
—Thomas F. Woodlock
Together we can rise above this.
My heart remains with each and every one of you. Like you, and the animals we love, care for, and protect, we are all living beings. Though each of us has our own unique situation and challenges, we are still in this together. With all our hearts, creative minds, determined efforts, the animals, and our common cause to inspire us, we can make good things happen now and each successive moment. Let's get to it. We can do it, and rise above today's difficulties. Start here to keep pushing on.
It is a changed world, except for our foundational commitment to the animals.
Everything has changed. COVID-19 has upended the world, ravaging far too many lives irrespective of age, and wreaking havoc on the ability of so many to care for and support themselves and their loved ones. Individuals, families, organizations, businesses, industries, and communities, including the zoological community, are all experiencing devastating consequences.
Nothing has changed. Our commitment to the animals and their well-being continues even amidst these extraordinarily trying circumstances. Protecting the animals and their well-being is an ongoing responsibility we have pledged to uphold for their lives or our own. This is not easy under the best of conditions, but it is something we are willingly called to do. Doing the right thing by the animals earns us the goodwill and support of the public needed to sustain our good works, now more than ever.
Being there for zoo and aquarium staff, and our communities
As we all know, far too many people in the world are suffering right now. Sadly, that statement was probably true before COVID-19. We must be ever mindful of the struggles of those in our local communities and our organizations. Each person's and every family's challenges are real, and mean everything to them. Dislocation within the zoological community has been happening organization by organization. The care and sensitivity with which we engage with each other matters.
Though many difficult or hard decisions may be necessary for organizations to persevere in the near future, the "way we do the things we do" now will speak volumes of our ability to rise above circumstances. Whatever your status, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, please understand that your contributions are appreciated and recognized, even if it seems that is not the case. Simply stated, everyone who has done anything to help an animal, another person, a zoological organization or other charitable organization, or your local community, has helped us all in some way. We are still in this thing called life together, and will be for all of our days. Our proximity and responsibilities may change, but we are one with each other and all life.
Shifting public sentiments
The fundamental shift in public sentiment is a recalibration of the public's "comfort level" in visiting once your region "reopens." Pre-COVID-19, this was largely a matter of animal welfare and, to a lesser extent, other factors. Post COVID-19, it is also consciously a matter of public health and safety—some of which will be dictated by public health policy, and some of which can be influenced by our actions and public perception.
In the meantime, enterprising zoological organizations, and their passionate and skilled educators, IT, AV, and social media staff and volunteers, have reinvented the concepts of visitation and engaging with the animals. The public and various groups—like children, students, parents, teachers, and schools—have been delighted. This holds great potential for influencing public perception going forward, because it involves serving the public in a time of great need, in a manner protective of the animals and people.
The good news: we can change.
In this changed world, which will differ more upon "re-entry," we are fortunate to possess the unlimited ability to change ourselves (and our organizations, and just about anything). This power to change was already fundamentally important to the future sustainability of the zoological community in the old world, where public consciousness about animals had evolved. Now, while preserving certain core values—such as our commitment to the animals, their interests, protection, and well-being—we must accelerate and expand the ways we are changing. This is evident in the innovative and diversified ways people and zoological organizations are staying connected, and the creative ideas for adding revenue streams to maintain animal care and welfare programs.
Overcoming difficulties is what we do.
Much of my work within the zoological community has involved helping animals, individuals, and organizations through challenges. Each time we encounter a problem or difficult situation, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, and that it is too big to handle. Having helped others work through many difficulties, I have often felt that way at the outset of my involvement to make things better. In those moments, it is helpful to recall all the previously insurmountable obstacles we have overcome, and then get to work. With a constructive attitude, difficulties are not erased, but they can be transformed in ways that help animals and people. We have all overcome difficulties, and need to remind ourselves that it is something that we do, and set about doing it as best we can. The magnitude of the challenges may be greater today, and the resources constrained, but we are better than we were before, and "Getting Better All the Time."
Keep at it.
One of the great things about these hard times is that being in this together, we can help each other persevere, no matter what obstacles present themselves. In 1979, my grandmother gifted me a wallet containing the most precious wisdom that has carried me through every adversity. Inside the wallet was a handwritten note telling me that the little poem she had placed in the wallet was something my grandfather (who had just passed) had in his own wallet for years. She wrote that "he always believed what it had to say—never forget him, as he loved you very much." In honor of my grandparents' memory and spirit of love, I pass along "the little poem."
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
REST if you must, but please don't quit.
(Attributed to John Greenleaf Whittier, Edgar A. Guest, Anonymous, and possibly others.)
For Don Shula, with love, gratitude, and respect for a lifetime of lessons in integrity.
© 2020 James F. Gesualdi, P.C. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. This is not, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.
For more information on EXCELLENCE BEYOND COMPLIANCE®, visit excellencebeyondcompliance.com.
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
Well, what a different world it is since my last article for this newsletter. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in so many ways. Some will be temporary, like the "social distancing" policies various governments have instituted. These will be lifted at some stage, and our aquariums and zoos will reopen. Other changes will, I suspect, be with us for a longer time—like tougher budgets, to recover from the period when our aquariums and zoos have been closed without visitors and income.
Tougher budgets will, I suspect, create longer-term problems, with reduced staffing costs, expenditures to plan and develop new displays, reduced travel and conference expenses, and many other areas. Sadly, I think it will take many years for the world to recover. One of the outcomes of this horrible event that I am hoping for is the elimination of wild animals in markets as food, particularly bats, which might have been the source of this virus. If this occurs, it will enhance the conservation of many species.
I am amazed at the lengths to which aquariums and zoos have gone to to keep their visitors engaged while their doors are closed. Using social media, videos, and live camera feeds, we have been keeping our guests engaged in our mission and stories. This will strengthen the bond between people and our facilities, and certainly brightens the day for the many people who are at home suffering social isolation.
One area that we as a company have focused on in the past month is e-conferences. With the cancellation of most aquatic conferences globally, The Aquarium Vet produced an e-conference dedicated solely to the amazing elasmobranch group of animals. The E-lasmo Conference was organized in three weeks, and then held online over four days in April, with over three hours of live content per day. The course consisted of detailed lectures with Q & A. It was hugely successful, with over 300 attendees, and will now become an annual event. If you wish to see more details, please visit http://www.theaquariumvet.com/conference/.
I ask you all to stay safe during these challenging times, as we all work in various teams (A and B, or 1 and 2) to minimize the risk of the entire team becoming infected. I understand these restrictions, as I have been called off the bench at the Melbourne Aquarium so that there is a vet for each team. Interesting times. I hope by the next time I write to you, the world will have started to regain some semblance of normality.
E-quarist™ Courses—Academy Subscriber Special!
The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is excited to share an additional Academy subscriber benefit regarding our collaboration with The Aquarium Vet: as an Academy subscriber, you are now entitled to a discount on the e-quarist™ courses. We are also happy to offer one of our free monthly webinars.
For more information about the SDZGA discount, or anything about the e-quarist™ course, including next month's free webinar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.