October 17, 2021

Quick Takes from #WAZA2021 (World Association of Zoos & Aquariums)

#WAZA2021 came and went this week in the blink of an eye…especially if you, like us in the U.S., were trying to watch the sessions live in the wee hours of the morning. If you caught some extra Zzz’s or had conflicting appointments that prevented you from viewing the sessions, we’ve gathered our Quick Takes for your reference:

  1. The virtual conference was available in English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish to over 900 registrants from 30 countries

  2. WAZA shared the new WAZA Short Guide: Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil at Your Zoo or Aquarium and discussed the new WAZA Short Guide on carbon neutrality which is currently in development. In addition, WAZA has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Forestry Council. Download A Short Guide: How to Choose Responsibly Sourced Forest Products at Your Zoo or Aquarium

  3. Dr. Theo Pagel – WAZA President and Director of the Cologne Zoo

    • Like the latest James Bond movie, “This is not a time to die for our institutions nor for the species we care for.”

    • WAZA is an international “think tank” for zoos and aquariums

    • “Our parents sent men to the moon, now it is time for us to save our own planet.”

    • The importance of the collaboration of IUCN and WAZA for the Reverse the Red Movement

  • 31,000 species threatened with extinction

  •  Reverse the Red is primarily partnered with IUCN’s Species Survival Commission

  •  Four actions to move forward:

    • Mobilizing national networks (National Centers for Species Survival Specialist Groups to be created)

    • Empowering communities

    • Measuring impact

    • Celebrating success

  • The last IUCN conference ranked climate change and the loss of biodiversity as the most important conservation issues facing the world

4. Dr. Razan al Mubarak – newly elected President for IUCN

  • Only the second woman President, and the first from the Arabic World (UAE)

  • 97% of the Earth’s surface has been altered, and species are being lost at rapid rate, e.g., 27% of coral species have been lost

  • Seeks further collaboration with WAZA and its members to find “common ground since we are in this fight together”

  • Notes the collaboration and lessons learned of bringing the scimitar-horned oryx back to the wild after its near extinction:

    • Go large, on scale – now 400 animals in Chad, some are fourth generation

    • Go quickly, don’t wait for the perfect plan

    • Projects need to be led by local partners

5.  Elizabeth Maruma Mrema – Chair of IUCN’s Convention on Biodiversity (first African woman elected to this position)

  • Human health interrelated with biodiversity

  • We need to “Build back better” after Covid

  • Zoos and aquariums are vital partners in “Reversing the Red” – well placed for science and innovation and approaching governments about policy development

6. Mike Barclay – CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

  • Very important to measure our own carbon footprints

  • Climate change is a “Code Red” for humanity

  • WAZA developing a carbon reduction guidebook – important to know current footprint (baseline) as we move forward

7. Danny de Man – Deputy Director, EAZA

  • EAZA’s new population management plans created specific goals and made the roles of the program clearer

    • Re-evaluated EEP programs

    • Assigned roles to each species (can be multiple) and established specific goals

      • 80% of programs have a direct conservation role

    • Long term management plans, EAZA has now added a Population Management Center

    • Each of the revised EEPs can be accessed at: https://www.eaza.net/conservation/programmes/eep-pages/

    • Growing towards 600 programs

8. WAZA Awards

  • Dr. Simon Tonge, former CEO of Paignton Zoo /Wild Planet Trust, was presented The Heini Hediger Award in recognition of his outstanding service and lifelong commitment to the global zoo community

  • Prague Zoo received the WAZA Conservation Award for its ‘Return of the Wild Horses’ conservation programme to reintroduce the Przewalski’s horse into Mongolia’s Great Gobi Desert.

    • Finalists were the North Carolina Zoo for their work on African vultures, and the Saint Louis Zoo/University of Missouri-St. Louis for their work on Avian Health in the Galapagos

  • North Carolina Zoo received the WAZA Environmental Sustainability Award for the zoo’s long-term commitment to sustainability, with sustainable practices having been integrated into all zoo operations since 1989

9. Development of WAZA ethics and welfare policy

  • In many areas of the world, youth are leading the environmental movement

  • There is a growth of “edutainment” that sometimes takes the place of entertainment

  • Issues of varying cultural standards, ambassador animals, culling, pest control, surplus animal disposition

  • Animal in zoos and aquariums should “Thrive not survive.” More than just conservation. WAZA goal for all zoos to be evaluated for animal welfare by 2023

  • Panel on implementation of WAZA 2023 animal welfare goals

    • Goal has two points:

      • Institutions need to have a welfare process which includes certain WAZA criteria

      • Then be compliant

    • Assessment tool is the most important part, pilot study has been done. Every regional association will develop their own standards as long as they include the basic WAZA points

    • Welfare for animals in our care first and foremost, then conservation

10. Dr. Mauro Guillen – Author and Dean, Cambridge Judge Business School, is a specialist in marketing trends and economy, and author of the best-seller “2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything”

11. Clement Lanthier – President and CEO, Calgary Zoo discussed regulations and animals

  • Will review court cases – rulings are variable, changing public outlook one animal at a time, establishing precedent

12. Dr. Andrew Moss – Conservation Social Scientist, Chester Zoo discussed Nature Play

  • Nature Connect grants funded by Disney

  • Scientific study showed that connection to nature was improved by zoo activities

  • Also found zoos and aquariums are not as embraced by communities as we thought

13. Brian Davis – President and CEO, Georgia Aquarium and Chair of the Board of Directors of AZA discussed Diversity and AZA

  • Race, gender, sensory capacity, disabilities

  • Opened with how in 2020, the U.S. fractured along multiple lines, with people not seeing the value in one another

  • Biodiversity understands the uniqueness of organisms, diversity does also

  • Environmental crisis is so extensive, it requires “All hands involved (including prosthetic hands).”

  • Don Moore, recently retired Director, Oregon Zoo (in video), “Diversity enhances our ability to do conservation.”

  • From another speaker, “Discomfort = growth”

  • “First, know your own lens – what are our inherent views based on your history and background?”

  • Diversity action plan:

    • Identify barriers

    • Develop a plan to address them

    • Create measurable goals

  • Showed a powerful video of a disabled Veterans program at the San Diego Zoo

  • Highlighted sensory inclusiveness

  • Discussed the importance of paid internships

14.  WAZA Committee Goals and Actions

  • Animal Welfare (Karen Fifield) – Animal/visitor contact guidelines, elephant ride policy, tools for Animal Welfare Policy implementation by 2023

    • Alejandro Grajal is new chair

  • Population Management (David Field) – oversees international studbooks, Global Species Management Plans, next joint TAG meeting in Long Beach in April 2022

  • Conservation and Sustainability Committee (Mike Barclay)

  • Membership (Thomas Kauffels) – have maintained membership numbers through pandemic

  • Association Committee (Mfanwy Griffith) – more active and making more impact within WAZA

Per WAZA, recordings of the conference will be made available soon. If you did not register for the conference but would like to view the recordings, please contact conference@waza.org.

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