Wrapping up 2023 ZAA Conference and the award winners


Thank you for your participation in the 2023 ZAA Conference, held in Christchurch. The impressive turnout and the wealth of industry insights shared by all were truly remarkable. We hope you enjoyed presenting, absorbing the content, networking, and sharing your experience.

The planning and execution of conferences demand a significant effort, and it would not have been possible without our lovely host, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, whose invaluable contribution made this event memorable. Furthermore, we highly appreciate our sponsors: Wild Republic, Advanced Aquarium Technology, IBIS Technology, and Maptivate. Their generous support has been instrumental in making this event a reality.

The conference witnessed a gathering of over 160 people, both in-person and online, joining from 4 continents.

The program boasted a range of over 40 speakers from across the region and the globe, where delegates explored topics such as:

  • Developing meaningful partnerships with First Nations People of both Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia.
  • Sustainable practices and habitat development at a small and large scale.
  • Developing impactful engagement with communities and evaluating behaviour change campaigns.
  • The value of partnerships to drive positive conservation outcomes.
  • Evidence based conservation action for positive impacts on regional species populations.
  • The future of animal welfare in zoos and aquariums from the perspective of the animals and the public.

This year, the conference also involved the biennial ZAA awards. We had the privilege to evaluate some exceptional presentations, which made selecting winners even more challenging. We are pleased to announce the following deserving recipients:


  • Engagement Award

Zoos Victoria, Totes for Wildlife. (Large institution)

Aussie Ark, Small Macropod Engagement Program (Small institution)


Both winners stood out for their well-defined project objectives, cost-effectiveness, holistic support from the whole organisation, innovative program design, and substantial third-party & community involvement. The programs had a clear call-to-action and measurable outcomes.


  • Environmental Sustainability Award

Territory Wildlife Park, Community Arts Program


Territory Wildlife Park exemplified innovation and sustainability throughout its program, with outstanding community engagement and third-party collaboration. Their meticulous program evaluation highlighted their sustainability achievements.


  • Exhibit Award

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Wildlife Hospital (Large institution)

David Fleay Wildlife Park, Crocodile Enclosure full redevelopment (Small institution)


Both projects showcased well-specified goals, innovation, cost-effectiveness, and emphasis on animal welfare and sustainability. By facilitating recovery and release or granting animals greater control over their environment, these projects significantly elevated animal care standards as well as the visitor experience.


  • Employee of the Year Award

Nic Dunn, Animal Care Manager – Wellington Zoo


Nic Dunn was chosen for his dedication and embodiment of organisational values. Nic demonstrates teamwork, proactive communication, integrity, continuous improvement, and innovation.


  • Conservation Award

Zoos Victoria, Saving the Mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot (Large institution)

Hidden Vale Research Station, Koala Conservation Project (Small institution)


Both winners offered insights into their well-defined goals, robust evaluation processes, benefits to the ecosystem, and project sustainability. A solid third-party & community involvement and powerful advocacy messaging amplified their efforts.


  • Meritorious Award


Simon Eyre, Animal Science Manager - Wellington Zoo: For his valuable longstanding commitment and contribution to the ZAA Animal Management Committee and the ZAA Standards and Accreditation Committee, including an extended tenure as SAC Chair.




Androo Kelly, Managing Director – Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary: For his valuable contribution and respected leadership in the Association’s development and knowledge share of Tasmanian Devil husbandry.




Cameron Kerr, CEO - Taronga Conservation Society: For his longstanding valuable contribution to the Association and its future via ZAA Board, ZAA Committees and ZAA President tenures.