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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, November 2020. baby tapir

Introducing Animals: New Galápagos Tortoise Course

Keepers, interpreters, guides, and docents can explore the fascinating life of Galápagos tortoises with San Diego Zoo Global Academy, as part of our Introducing Animals series about animal species and other taxonomic groups. Whether you've worked with Galápagos tortoises 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 new module explores the behavior, ecology, reproduction, and conservation of these unique animals. Remarkable images show them 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. The module takes about 60 minutes to complete, although participants progress at their own pace and may repeat an entire course or sections of a course as many times as they like.

The new Galápagos Tortoise module is designed to run on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or even your phone—anywhere you have an internet connection!

For more information about our Introducing Animals series, please contact Donna Parham, SDZG, at dparham@sandiegozoo.org.

Academy News

The San Diego Zoo Global Academy Puts Utah's Hogle Zoo in the Spotlight
Utah's Hogle ZooUtah's Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City is part of the Academy's collaborative learning environment!
Visit Utah's Hogle Zoo website at hoglezoo.org.

Collaboration with Utah's Hogle Zoo Can Make New Employee Orientation Training Available to You
San Diego Zoo Global, CypherWorx, and our Academy partners reached out to Utah's Hogle Zoo to work together to create a new employee orientation course for their organization. From the Academy's point of view, we anticipate there are similarities between the new employee orientation for various institutions—and we can provide a template for an institution, and assist in getting their new employee orientation training module built quickly and effectively, to meet their needs. Starting with the NEO template, CypherWorx and the institution can then customize the template for a particular zoo's new employee orientation. Thank you, Utah's Hogle Zoo, for working on this project with us!

Thank you as well to Jessica Berbaguer, Human Resources, Utah's Hogle Zoo, for sharing the following about the collaboration: "We are looking forward to launching our new online orientation. This will be such a time-saver during peak hiring season for Utah's Hogle Zoo. The course has turned out better than I could have expected, and it was an easy process to develop with CypherWorx."

For more information about creating a New Employee Orientation course for your institution, please contact Linda Duca, CypherWorx, at lduca@cypherworx.com.


Academy's Animal Care Fundamentals Courses Are Now Mobile Friendly
Rest assured, Academy community, we are working hard behind the scenes! We have been upgrading many of our popular courses to be mobile friendly. The new version of these courses can now be run on a variety of devices, including smartphones.

Please click here to go to the Animal Care Fundamentals section of our website to view samples of the upgraded courses.


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, November 20, at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST).

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


Seven Steps to Regulatory and Reputational Success with Animal Welfare Act Compliance


By James F. Gesualdi            

In the past, the zoological licensing system allowed for license renewals even in the case of a poor compliance record or a history of animal welfare concerns. Given that system, the Excellence Beyond Compliance® approach offered zoos an alternative way of nonetheless making the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) really work to the benefit of animals. Now, the older system is being phased out. The new licensing regulation requires entities like zoological organizations to get relicensed the old-fashioned way: by earning the authority to maintain animals, every three years.

With thanks to the agency for making this change, and to those who fought to bring it about, this regulatory change challenges zoological organizations to continuously comply with the AWA, and, frankly, be at their best. The new licensing requirement makes the voluntary Excellence Beyond Compliance® approach an indispensable part of a zoological organization's AWA compliance and animal welfare program. Here are seven ideas from the Excellence Beyond Compliance® approach to help you help animals.

  • Adopt the mindset of continuous improvement, and foster a more constructive culture through key positions (from board to staff), groups, policies, and practices.

This is how to intentionally and thoughtfully take charge of your organization's regulatory and reputational standing, demonstrating that animals and their interests are central.

  • Prepare for inspections and remain inspection ready with the use of an "inspection checklist."

The checklist enables the organization to make the most of the inspector's time and expertise during an inspection. It also ensures that anything that needs to be addressed and any updates are covered. It should be kept at the ready with any backup documentation and images.

  • Train for inspections through regular self-inspections and periodic peer inspections, even virtual ones.

This does several things, like boost inspection readiness, provide great opportunities for self-examination and improvement, and further cross-collaborations and team building.

  • Self-post your AWA inspection reports on your website.

Show the world that you own your compliance record, and make it a good one. Even occasional noncompliant items on an inspection can be used to show good follow-up commitment to compliance and the animals.

  • Submit self-certified compliance reports and improvement plans to the agency after each inspection.

Compliance is important, as is your commitment to continuous improvement in the name of making animals' lives better. This is how you show the agency you are serious about serving the animals above all else. Self-post this information or an abstract on your website, and the public and any critics will respect your transparency and the underlying constructive actions.

  • Make your good handling of concerns and complaints more than a reactive exercise, incorporating it into your animal welfare improvements and perhaps external engagement.

Even ultimately unfounded or readily resolved concerns can help us to improve if we look for the lessons they hold from a different perspective.

  • Continuously improving organizations should compile and share annual reports on animal welfare enhancements and other improvements.

We are all about getting better at serving the animals. If we are doing that, the world should know about it.

For a brief summary depiction of these and related measures, here is a recent poster presentation—Always Building upon Our Good Work for Animals to Better Serve Them and Their Interests, Protection, and Welfare—from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums 75th annual conference.

Click here to see the WAZA poster.





The Practice of Giving Thanks, and How Mentoring Helps Us Help Animals

By James F. Gesualdi      

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought….
—G.K. Chesterton

Develop an attitude of gratitude and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.
—Brian Tracy

These words are it. They are all I have left to give, and everything in this world to me. That sounds like very little or quite a lot, depending on one's perspective. It is enough. You, your colleagues, and your organizations do all the work. These words, when read, improved on, and applied by YOU, are intended to open new ways of fulfilling our responsibilities to animals and each other. So, once again, with an ever-grateful heart for all your good works, and with all my soul, this is meant to pay a tremendous debt, willingly undertaken, because it is one of gratitude.

An earnest reflection on the truly good practice of thanksgiving:
Let us be ever thankful
for this very moment and each one in which we live.
May boundless gratitude always fill our hearts—
especially at those times we strain to see the good.
The good that is all around us, within us, and sustains us.
Our practice of thanksgiving is only ever now and more than a day.
From this lofty consciousness, we can seize the opportunities to bring greater good
and more light to our journey, together with the animals and each other.
As we move forward, let us seek to more fully understand the animals, people, and world outside of ourselves, although connected to the essence of our being.
It is through such awareness and appreciation of our differences that we see anew the oneness of all life.
This knowledge strengthens our resolve to gratefully serve animals and others.
And that is our reason for being here, and it is good.

The good practice of thanksgiving raises our spirits, clears our minds, and empowers us to be better. Review "An Enlightened Caregiver's Creed" in the June 2017 Academy Newsletter, or faithfully apply "The Principles of Constructive Engagement" in the November 2015 Academy Newsletter, and see for yourself.

Mentoring "Builds Up the People and Possibilities Around You"—and that Helps Animals

There are times it seems that each person and every encounter or situation is a teacher or mentor of sorts. Then there are those who have given of themselves, their experiences, and wisdom, to pick us up and propel us forward. My heart regularly brings to mind these beautiful souls, some of whom can be thanked directly and some only through other means. The best way to honor their contributions is by sharing, as best one can, some of the lessons imparted to us and helpful insights picked up along the way. Without your good efforts and the thoughtful and caring aid of a lifetime of mentors, my ideas here would not be worthy of consideration and capable of being put to good use for the truly "right" purpose of helping animals.

It is wonderful to give of oneself to "mentor" another. There is a kind of joy in being a witness to the growth and advancement of another person. For many of us, this is sweetest when that person is engaged as a caring professional working to serve animals, their interests, protection, and welfare. In the course of my career, I have been fortunate to mentor lots of people, including many lawyers. Over the past few years, these "mentees" have done much to inspire and mentor me. My life and my work are incalculably better because of their goodness in helping me, as the outside world thinks I am helping them.

Mentor somebody. Ask someone to mentor you. Either way, both of you will be doubly blessed. At its heart, mentoring is collaborative. As St. Francis of Assisi's prayer notes, "it is in giving that we receive." Sounds about right with respect to mentoring, licensing, and thanksgiving. In giving, we receive.
No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.
—Alfred North Whitehead

© 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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