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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, September 2020. colorful fishes

Introducing Animals: Bony Fishes Collection

Interpreters, guides, docents, educators, and wildlife care specialists can explore the fascinating life of bony fishes, as the San Diego Zoo Global Academy presents a collection of five new modules in Introducing Animals, our series about animal species and other taxonomic groups. The individual modules allow for a more focused approach to the material, as each takes a narrower scope. Each module includes self-assessment opportunities and its own mastery test. Another benefit of the new Bony Fishes modules is that they are designed to run on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or even your phone—anywhere you have an internet connection!

Bony Fishes 1 explores the physical characteristics of these vertebrates. In Bony Fishes 2, you'll learn about the distribution and varied habitats of bony fishes. Bony Fishes 3 explores what—and how—bony fishes eat, as well as which animals prey on them, and their adaptations to avoid being eaten. This module also covers locomotion, behavior, communication, and symbiosis. Bony Fishes 4 explores the fascinating world of bony fish reproduction. In the final module, Bony Fishes 5, you'll investigate their conservation status, current threats, and how conservationists are helping. The module concludes with a look at some examples of how we can all participate in fish conservation.

Remarkable images show fish in ways you've never seen before, and video provides insights into their behavior. Interactivity sprinkled throughout the modules engages participants in the learning process, and questions at the end of each section ensure that they have mastered fundamental concepts before they move on. Each of the Bony Fishes modules takes about 90 minutes to complete, although participants progress at their own pace and may repeat the entire course or sections of the course as many times as they like.

The modules can easily be integrated into your current training program. Providing online modules that team members can complete anywhere and at any time overcomes one of the major challenges of training: getting all participants together in one place at one time. At the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, participants complete online modules on their own before attending group training programs. They are able to master key vocabulary and concepts, giving them a solid foundation that allows them—and their trainers—to make the most of in-class and on-site training.

The modules are an awesome resource for interpreters, but they offer insights to veteran wildlife care specialists too, providing a glimpse of natural history that helps them address husbandry concerns. They address common questions and provide an up-close exploration of what bony fishes are all about. Whether you've worked with these animals for years or you're a brand-new interpreter or docent, the modules will equip you with a better understanding of these amazing animals.

The five-part Bony Fishes Collection joins the Reptiles Collection, Apes Collection, and Monotremes Collection in the Introducing Animals series, along with Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, Takins, Mang Mountain Pitvipers, Kangaroos and Kin, Lemurs, Penguins, African Penguins, Hamadryas Baboons, Old World Monkeys, Mammals, Birds, Giraffes, Rhinoceroses, Elephants, Cats, Orangutans, Great Apes, Lions, Cheetahs, Polar Bears, Giant Pandas, Tigers, and Gorillas. We're excited to share these new courses with you!

See a course preview on the Academy website


Academy News

Upcoming Safe Capture Training Distance Learning Event

The Academy's Safe Capture Training will be the focus of a two-day distance learning event, October 17 and 18. This event is being organized for students at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point College of Natural Resources. However, because this is a distance learning event, if you would like to participate, please contact us for information via the Safe Capture website's Contact Us form.


OKLAHOMA PRIMATE SanctuarySan Diego Zoo Global Academy Puts the Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary in the Spotlight

The Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary is part of the Academy's collaborative learning environment!
Visit the Oklahoma Primate Sanctuary website here.


CypherworxAdministrator's Users Group Webinar
Please join us for the Administrator's Users Group Webinar, hosted by Academy partner CypherWorx. The next webinar is Friday, September 18, at 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

Register here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Academy Contributors

Excellence Beyond Compliance logo

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

Doing Good Work(s) Serving Animals and Others Changes Everything

By James F. Gesualdi


May we all do good work and reach new heights.
—Kimberly Fullerton

What We Are Called to Do with Our Lives

Doing good work. Doing good works. Doing good, works. These short words, three simple sentences, differing only by the addition of the letter "s" and then a mere comma. Our lives, and our personal and professional efforts on behalf of animals, are more effective and fulfilling when we embrace the ideas within these three variations of these words.

Conscientiously taking action, getting to it, and doing it well. Being a professional. Continually looking for ways to improve our performance. Growing as people and professionals. The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is a wonderful resource for zoological professionals—especially animal caregivers and those who support them—doing good work.

Thoughtfully making a difference for animals and people—particularly when we improve and save animals' lives and advance their interests within our organizations, the zoological community, and the world—requires that we do good work. Doing good work that serves to enhance and protect the lives of animals gives us the opportunity of a lifetime to make this a better world, for one animal at a time. Hard as such work may be, let us always remember that life is precious, and there is no higher calling than to invest our time and energy doing good works for other living beings.

The three words we are embracing here raise us and our respective professions, and keep us ever mindful of the higher purposes driving us—and they work. Striving to do our best with what we have, and doing it for the right reasons, generally yields better outcomes. Even when things do not turn out as well as we wanted, we can take comfort in knowing we did good work, in doing good works, and we will work hard to understand how we can improve ourselves and this particular outcome.

Doing good work. Doing good works. Doing good, works. Three words that say "I love you" to what we do, why we do it, and the animals at the heart of it all.

Time to Be Heard on Birds

On August 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Care Unit announced that it will hold three listening sessions to receive comments on the agency's anticipated rulemaking on standards of care for birds.

In a Federal Register announcement, the agency posed several questions relevant to the regulation of birds, including inquiries relating to possible exemptions, means for classifying or grouping birds for regulatory purposes, and avoiding interference with breeding and nesting potentially caused by the regulations themselves and agency inspections:

The notice also asked about "appropriate performance-based standards." Performance-based regulations are those that require a certain outcome, but do not prescribe the means for achieving it. Conversely, engineering standards are those that set out a specific parameter, such as the minimum size of an enclosure.

The listening sessions are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, September 29, 8 a.m. PDT
  • Wednesday, October 7, 11 a.m. PDT
  • Thursday, October 15, 2 p.m. PDT.

Participation requires advance registration. Information on providing oral and written comments can be found on the agency website:

Doing good works. This is a great opportunity for the zoological community to share its expertise and relevant professional standards, as well as lessons leveraged from any relevant good practices for the care of many species of birds.

It is good that the AWA regulations will contain standards for avian protection and welfare. This is also an opportunity for zoological organizations to examine the ways their animal welfare programs extend to all species in their care, and for the zoological community to encourage the agency to extend some basic welfare protections to all species entrusted to the care of humans. That would truly being doing good work(s).

New Online Database of AWA Compliance Records, Including Inspection Reports and "Teachable Moments"

The agency announced that its new AWA compliance database will be available September 21. The database and the public search tool will allow users to "see a copy of 'teachable moments,' which are minor problems that are identified during inspections but may be corrected quickly, without a formal noncompliance being cited on the inspection report."

It is worth repeating the plea set forth in prior columns that the always-available AWA compliance database means the world can readily ascertain important regulatory information about your organization, including inspection reports and teachable moments. You can demonstrate your commitment to transparency, accountability, and the animals in your care by self-posting to your website inspection reports and teachable moments, as well as any self-certified compliance reports attesting to completion of corrective measures and farther-reaching improvement plans, among other things. This voluntarily makes you the best source for compliance info on your regulatory standing and ongoing efforts to practice Excellence Beyond Compliance®. It's all related.

Good Ideas and Good Intentions Require Good Actions to Come to Life and Change Lives

On the anticipated bird regulation, share what you have learned doing good work and doing good works for birds. With respect to the database, you are responsible for making sure your compliance records demonstrate that you are doing good work and doing good works for animals. You can also build on that with your own good practice of self-posting inspection reports, self-certified compliance statements, and improvement plans. As the opening quote of this column calls to us, let us get going doing good work(s) for animals and people, and together we can reach new heights in our lives, work, and this world we share.

In loving memory of George Thomas Seaver, #41, boyhood model of excellence and inspiration in doing good work.

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® see http://excellencebeyondcompliance.com/.

Zoo & Conservation News

As an added Academy benefit, you can view the latest San Diego Zoo Global Zoo and Conservation News here.

Photo of a trainer with a cheetah.

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