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San Diego Zoo Global Academy

Training, Tracking, and Compliance Is a Breeze

By Gary Priest, Curator - Animal Care Training

The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is a relatively new tool to all of us, including those of us here in San Diego. Every five years, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park are scheduled for accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and 2014 is an accreditation year for us. We are exploring ways to leverage the San Diego Zoo Global Academy’s powerful training and tracking resources to better ensure a smooth accreditation inspection in the fall. One opportunity is the AZA requirement for zoonotic disease prevention training. Under the accreditation Safety & Security Section 11.1.2., all institutions must provide and document animal care staff training in this area.

Because of the size of our two facilities (a combined 2,500 employees), during our 2009 accreditation we began collecting documents nine months in advance. We needed to schedule several presentations on zoonotic disease prevention at different times, and on multiple days, and in many different locations in order to cast the widest training net possible. Each presentation required time and we needed to track who attended—which was recorded with a clipboard and the honor system.

Today, the Global Academy features an online class in zoonotic disease prevention written by our Corporate Director of Animal Health, Dr. Don Janssen. Because it is part of the Global Academy, this nationally recognized class is now available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and worldwide from any computer, and the software automatically tracks every student’s training progress. In San Diego, we require that each of our employees with animal handling responsibilities take and pass the Zoonotic Disease course with a score of 90% or better or they must repeat the class.

In August 2013, we identified a total of 432 employees with responsibility for handling and/or caring for animals. The various divisions include: Mammals, Birds, Vet & Hospital Services, Nutrition, Education, Reptiles, Entomology, Children’s Zoo, Elephants, Behavior Management, Curators, and the research staff at the Institute for Conservation Research. In early September, employees received an email to create their own account in the Global Academy and to take and pass the required zoonotic disease prevention course before the end of 2013.

In early January, the report showed that out of 432 employees, 400 had joined the new My Academy site, completed their zoonosis training, and passed the quiz with 90% or better within those 12 weeks. The remaining 32 employees that still needed training will have done so by the time this newsletter comes out. Because this training is a zoological best practice concerning animal health and welfare and human safety, our organizational goal was to achieve 100% training compliance in time for our AZA accreditation inspection. With the Global Academy, we are quickly and efficiently accomplishing that goal. The Global Academy is the right tool for the job!

Would you like to hear more about San Diego Zoo Global Academy in general? Please contact Linda Duca at (516) 815-2886, or LDuca@Cypherworx.com

Global Academy Updates

Growth Continues!

San Diego Zoo Global Academy's reach is now more than 100 zoo and aquarium facilities. These are exciting times for learning and a very positive trend for our industry!  

San Diego Zoo Global Academy Welcomes the Roosevelt Park Zoo

The Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, North Dakota has joined San Diego Zoo Global Academy and will have two privately branded sites, one for their employees and one for their volunteers.  Welcome!

New Courses

Coming Soon: Animal Care Training Course: Life Support Systems
Many of the animals exhibited in zoos and aquariums have very specific environmental requirements that must be met. This course will explore the unique requirements of several types of animals.

View course sample


January Webinar: Integrating Plants and Animals at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The task of maintaining a healthy plant collection in and around animal exhibits in zoos is a challenge. This webinar will show the techniques used for selection, installation, and maintenance of trees and other plants in and around exhibits for birds, small and large mammals, primates, and in multi species exhibits. It will give real examples of plants that work and those that don’t, as well as techniques you can implement to ensure the best possible integration for both the plants and animals. Although focused on the Southern California climate zones, many of the principles are applicable at zoos nationwide.

Helpful Hints

from San Diego Zoo Global's My Academy and The Volunteer Connection

My Academy and The Volunteer Connection are the privately branded employee and volunteer sites at San Diego Zoo Global. This new section of the newsletter will highlight helpful hints about integrating your own private site into your organization’s training initiatives.

Creating Groups on Private Sites

Looking to create groups on your organization's privately branded site? It can be a great way to centralize communication. Some groups that have used the San Diego Zoo's private site are our safety committee, animal enrichment committee, bioinspiration team, and our internal conservation committee. To create a group, just click on the group tab. In the middle of the right hand side, click on the Create a Group button. It walks you through the process from there. You can add your events, discussions, announcements, resources, and even create a survey for your group to fill out. This is a great tool to collaborate and share information and then store your information electronically.

Have questions regarding this hint?  Ask Stephanie Crise: scrise@sandiegozoo.org

Use a Survey to Connect with Your Volunteers

Want to get a quick snapshot of what your volunteers are thinking? Try a survey on your Volunteer Connection site! Creating, editing, or deleting surveys is easy: just click on the Community Surveys tab. Once the survey has concluded, click on “edit survey” and scroll down to see the results! It even shows you who cast each vote so you can follow up with them if necessary. It’s a great way to capture information quickly, and it’s fun!

Have questions regarding this hint?  Ask Tammy Rach, The Volunteer Connection: trach@sandiegozoo.org

Zoo & Conservation News Highlights

Scan through all of the Zoo & Conservation News compiled by the San Diego Zoo Global Library this week at the library website.

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