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
Creating a Better Future for the Zoological Community, one Zoological Organization at a Time—Starting with Yours
By James F. Gesualdi
The best way to predict your future is to create it.
Gratitude for a friend, and a great champion of thinking and acting forward.
Thank you, Jon Prange. Jon is the relentless, creative spirit behind the Academy's vision, commitment, and tireless efforts to elevate the zoological community, one caring and thoughtful professional like you at a time.
For me, Jon has been a recruiter, prodder, planner, innovator, brainstormer, inspiration, and friend. The "heart and soul" of the Academy, as so aptly noted by the esteemed Dr. Don Janssen, Jon has challenged me to keep at this longer and hopefully better than I would have otherwise. His positivity improved the name of this column, changing it to "Getting Better All the Time." Fittingly, Jon has always given his best and his all—every day.
His retirement is a moment to express enduring gratitude to Jon for his contributions to helping all of us help animals and each other. May we all make such good use of our time on this journey as Jon has, and will continue to do. Thank you, Jon Prange, friend, and great lifter of the zoological profession.
We can do this!
The ideas comprising the Excellence Beyond Compliance® approach, expanded upon and updated in this aptly named column (thanks again, Jon Prange), are derived from lessons learned helping others transcend challenges. Often times, those challenges arose from an utterly heartbreaking situation or tragedy that seemed impossible to overcome. In each case, and sometimes through more difficult moments, the zoological professionals and zoological organizations found and created a way forward.
Today, we are still working through an unprecedented global pandemic that has impacted the entire world, devastating people, communities, and organizations—some more than others. In this sense, zoological professionals, zoological organizations, and the zoological community are not alone. This makes the challenges and the uncertainties ahead seem almost impossible to navigate.
Having helped other good souls persevere when the burden upon them seemed too much to bear, experience demonstrates that we can do this. We can do this because we care, and we are committed to the animals and people who care for and about them. We can do this because we are responsible for our constructive attitudes and actions. We can do this because we are creative thinkers, adept at putting good ideas into action. We can do this because we have done this before, on a different scale perhaps, but using the same timeless approaches.
Here are some ideas to explore and put into use, to move forward to a new state of well-being in a different world. The way we choose to go is ours to make the very most of—so, here we go together, as always.
We are called to our work on behalf of animals, and that gives us a different and higher purpose. People are drawn to being a part of something bigger than themselves, and we can help them do that while helping animals, people, and environments. Our cause is a grand one: serving animals and their interests, protection, and well-being. That includes rescuing animals from all kinds of situations, including marine mammal strandings, and the truly hard work of saving species.
Caring and caregiving count for everything.
Caring for others, including animals, and having others care about us has become more important than ever. Caring is the highest form of connection—and people crave it, especially during this pandemic. Caregiving is akin to protecting and saving. Caregivers have enjoyed long-overdue recognition and respect for their heroic efforts. Animal caregivers are just as noble. Caring, compassion, caregiving, and connection are at the heart of what we do. Extending that spirit to other humans will resonate more deeply in today's new world.
Speak "the language of love" in all that we do.
Love makes the world go round, in more ways than one. The more we speak from the heart with genuine respect and love for the animals and each other, the more people will be drawn to join with us. Previous columns have touched upon the power of words and the need for an updated vocabulary for the zoological community. This is that, and more. Again, it is the very spirit in which we engage.
See the opportunity to learn, grow, and serve in every obstacle or setback.
Being truly constructive and highly effective comes from living this mindset in the moments that might otherwise press us down. These instances are our greatest teachers, and the doorway to creating a better future. The pandemic and associated challenges test us to show the world that we can help light the way forward for animals, people, and environments, one step at a time.
The Excellence Beyond Compliance®/"Getting Better All the Time" approach fosters the "right" spirit, and provides tangible good practices.
Overcoming challenges begins with a "can do" mindset and culture of "going the extra mile" for the animals, practicing the Golden Rule toward others, and being grateful we can make a difference. The better we become as individuals, professionals, team members within our organizations, and the zoological community, the more effectively we can overcome challenges and better serve animals and people. It is not about simply checking the box. It is about doing the right thing for animals, then just a bit more, and never stopping. The good practice of "looking for good ideas to explore and implement now" discussed with respect to birds is just one fun way to do more good work for animals. There are endless other ways available to us even in the most challenging times and when constrained by limited resources.
The Excellence Beyond Compliance® approach is completely voluntary, and that was a deliberate choice. Some have wondered why any zoological organization would choose to adopt such a philosophy. It is simply the right thing to do, and doing it is up to you, so your good work and good works are your own. That is something to be proud of when it advances animals' interests, protection, and welfare. The responsibility is yours, if you so choose.
Take flight with holiday reading on birds by looking for good ideas to put into action.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Care unit has posted the transcripts of its three public listening sessions on the proposed Animal Welfare Act regulations for birds.
The transcripts can be found here.
The written comments submitted are available here.
Reviewing such materials is informative and insightful as to stakeholder thinking, as well as the possible extent of agency action. That sort of review is good for thinking ahead.
The most beneficial investment of time comes when you proceed with the intention of "looking for good ideas to explore and potentially implement now," to try them out and start advancing bird welfare immediately. Zoological organizations and the professionals working within them continuously improve because they want to do the right thing as best they can, as soon as they are able.
Looking for good ideas and putting them to good use is a good practice. It is who we are and what we do for animals. With the animals in our care, we can make a difference now. There is no need to wait for new regulations to point us in the right direction when we can get moving today—now.
Creating our way forward.
As challenging as things may seem, we can and should continue to remind ourselves to stay constructive. Having made it this far, what kind of new world and reinvented zoological community do we want to help shape?
To stay on the path toward building a better future for the zoological community and your zoological organization, just remember this powerful question from author and coach Steve Chandler: "What do you want to create?"
Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.
…Not only is having ideas important, but to express them, share them, and implement them is what makes a difference in the world…
May you, your family, friends, colleagues, and zoological organization enjoy a meaningful holiday season, and continue to contribute to creating a better future, one moment and one day at a time.
© 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/.
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
Well, what extraordinary times we find ourselves in. The fact that only a few weeks ago, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that both their midyear and annual conferences in 2021 will be virtual conferences spoke volumes to me—that we are a long way from the end of this COVID-19 issue. I think it was a very wise move, and partly because of the fact that even when our aquariums and zoos reopen (or have already), for the next year or two, there will be tougher budgets to assist facilities in recovering financially from the period when they were closed without visitors and income.
This is when online education and conferences become even more important than usual. This year, with the cancellation of most aquatic conferences globally, The Aquarium Vet delivered 3 e-conferences and 1 e-workshop with 30 presenters and over 700 attendees. We have already made the decision to deliver three in 2021, and these will become annual events on the aquarium and zoo calendars. For more information please visit theaquariumvet.com/conference/.
Tougher budgets will, I suspect, create longer-term problems, with reduced staffing costs, expenditure to plan and develop new displays, reduced travel and conference expenses, and many other areas. This is when the online delivery platform really comes into its own, to provide cost-effective education and training to your team members. Only today, I had an email from a regular subscriber to The Aquarium Vet e-quarist course. Their comment was: "I plan to expand our e-quarist enrollment next year for as many as another 15 to 20 aquarists. No travel to workshops or conferences will occur in 2021, so I'm hoping to use my budget for a greater commitment to online training."
This makes perfect sense, and I urge you to consider a similar approach in 2021.
New Penguin Module
After a much longer-than-expected incubation period, Module 12 (Penguins II) has finally hatched and is now available. This second (of three) penguin modules focuses on general husbandry, welfare, behavior and enrichment, nutrition, and reproduction. Each module takes about 15 to 20 hours to complete, and The Aquarium Vet is a recognized AZA Learning Partner. The third penguin module should be available by the middle of 2021. Anyone who studies this module will see that the long wait has been worthwhile.
Wishing you all well for the holiday season, and please stay safe. Hopefully, 2021 will be a much better year for this fragile world.
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 10 percent discount on the e-quarist™ courses. We are also happy to offer one of our free monthly webinars.
The Aquarium Vet has a free Aquatic Animal Welfare Module (focusing on fish and aquatic invertebrates), designed for aquariums and zoos. To register for this Aquatic Animal Welfare Module, visit our website.
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.
Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.