2018 has been a huge year for the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) Executive Team as we worked to deliver on year one of the five-year ZAA Strategic Plan. Here are 5 major highlights from the Association this year.
We welcomed new members to the team
Three new people joined the ZAA Executive team during April and May. Melissa Broadway came on board as Administration Assistant to provide administrative support for the office and the members of ZAA. Maigan Thompson joined in the Communications Manager role in a full-time capacity, to provide strategic communications and marketing support. Todd Jenkinson joined the team in May as Relationships and Collection Development Manager supporting the Association with a particular focus on our New Zealand members.
We launched Accreditation 2020
The ZAA Accreditation Team, Nick, Libby and Jude, have worked very hard to successfully roll out Accreditation 2020 with the members due for review in 2018. Over the last 12 months they have run four pilot reviews to refine the process, reviewed 37 member sites post-pilots across three countries, finalised accreditation of 17 members and provided coaching sessions for three organisations.
Despite the huge amount of work currently in motion, the team have also been looking ahead to the future. This included evaluating the program for improvements, building a resource library for members yet to go through accreditation and working on some significant developments coming up for the program.
Going forward, accreditation will mean more than high performance levels in animal welfare. 2019 will see the addition of two new modules to the program; biosecurity and safety. We understand that members don’t want the workload of the program to become too overwhelming, so the new modules will not duplicate legislative standards, but aim to compliment them and potentially provide future efficiencies for members. Libby and Jude have been working hard to get these new modules ready to launch towards mid-2019. Going forward, accreditation will mean excellence in welfare, safety and biosecurity.
All members of the team have made the most of their travel to engage additional external stakeholders around the Accreditation Program with presentations to government, NGOs and travel organisations. The response has been positive and it’s exciting to get the word out there about our Accreditation Program.
We stepped it up with member services and engagement
Early in the year we worked with Wellington Zoo as they hosted the ZAA Conference 2018 in May. The event attracted our largest conference attendance to date, close to 200 delegates from 12 countries. It was not long after the conference ended, that work on the ZAA Workshops 2019 began! Ramona, Melissa and Maigan have put significant effort into getting member input early on, so we’re very excited to see what you think of our draft program going out later in December.
We’ve all tried to connect with as many members as possible this year with member roadshows. These have been invaluable for getting your input face-to-face and communicating our strategy and progress throughout the year. For those we couldn’t visit, we also ran our first online member engagement survey, which will now run every year to continue to gain member input and track our progress.
The Member Support Team have been working on an exciting project to launch next year. After much research from Ramona and consideration from the whole team, a software solution has been chosen for a new digital platform. The new platform will replace the current ZAA Member Portal with far more features, benefits and streamlined function. Not only that, it will also give us a brand new, responsive website!
The arrival of Maigan in the Communications role has meant that ZAA is offering new levels of support with comms, marketing and media. The ZAA Communications SAG was established and there has already been many ideas for great opportunities for this group to add value to the membership.
We made strides in species management and conservation
With the arrival of Todd, based out of Wellington Zoo, we’ve had more face time with our New Zealand members and stakeholders now that the position is full time. He was appointed to the Kiwi Recovery Group as a captive kiwi representative and we had the opportunity to release 16 kiwi this year from across the membership. Todd visited a number of member facilities this year, participated in the Operation Nest Egg (ONE) Workshop and has engaged with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) who are open to a zoo-funded position based within their Wellington team to assist with development of the zoo IHS priorities.
There has been a lot of focus on training and workshopping this year. Early on we held a Species Management Training Course for both current and aspiring species coordinators, funded by the ZAA NZ Committee and hosted by Auckland Zoo. Training covered areas such as the Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) ‘One Plan Approach,’ SPARKS, PMx, Species Coordination in Australasia and ZIMS for Studbooks.
We had great feedback from the ZAA Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) Workshops hosted by Taronga Zoo Sydney in the new Taronga Institute of Science and Learning. Close to 50 representatives came together to workshop species management challenges. The event also provided some great learnings for coordinating the NZ Fauna TAG and upcoming NZ Workshops in New Plymouth.
James and Matt have been doing some innovative work on using technology to work smarter and truly demonstrate our members’ conservation work. At the ZAA Conference in Wellington Matt presented the importance of completing the Conservation Toolkit and introduced the concept of the Conservation Partnership Resource (CPR). These resources will improve public understanding of members’ contribution to conservation and help identify projects to support.
James introduced a software solution of his own design called Tuatara, a tool for collection planning and assessment to improve sustainability planning for ASMP-managed species. It was developed after feedback from members and will help us to work more strategically and collaboratively, improve the accuracy of reporting, improve the sustainability of animal populations and help us make more informed decisions based on all the facts. He was also kept busy with a lot happening around the Tasmanian devil program and his work on the Cassowary Recovery Team.
We made progress with Government
The ZAA team have been working with government in a great number of ways. Whether it’s Andrea’s tireless work on the priority IRAs and meetings in Canberra, discussions on biosecurity, accreditation presentations with state departments, collaboration on import/export processes, Todd and Nicola’s work on an MoU with the Department of Conservation (DOC) in New Zealand or James and Nicola’s work with DPIPWE in Tasmania, the ZAA team have been engaging with government on multiple levels.
Keep an eye on our LinkedIn page and member newsletter for updates on government advocacy and engagement next year!
We put ourselves out there globally
Some of the team travelled outside of Australasia to represent our region globally. Nicola attended the recent WAZA and SEAZA conferences in South East Asia and caught up with Trip Advisor in Singapore. James went to Budapest for the Joint TAG Chairs meeting and WAZA CMP. Nick was in Taipei late last year for a welfare workshop and has been a ‘virtual’ participant with the SEAZA Welfare Committee in the preparation for their accreditation launch early 2019.
These are just a handful of the team’s achievements this year and most of them wouldn’t be possible without the hard work, input and leadership of our members. We would like to thank our members for hosting events, sitting on committees, being species champions, participating in advisory groups, sharing knowledge, working together and making all of our team’s projects possible.
We wish you all a busy and prosperous holiday period and a happy new year!