I’m here in Philly for the National AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) Conference and I presented my paper today! The presentation was about our blog and I spoke to about 75 other keepers from around the US. I didn’t trip, Powerpoint didn’t crash, and I avoided completely blanking out in the middle of the presentation, so I’m considering it a success! Beck helped me immensely in putting the whole thing together and I’m very grateful for her efforts!
My audience let me take a picture of them at the end of the talk.
It was great letting other people know about our awesome blog, and hearing about the many other impressive things that keepers are doing. I’ve seen presentations on how a Denver Zoo hyena was trained to voluntarily hold still and allow a keeper to do a blood draw from its jugular, heard about the valiant efforts of Hogle Zoo keepers’ wildlife repsonse to a local oil spill, and learned about a expansive database that a Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium keeper has created to manage the entire enrichment program at her zoo. The AAZK and the fundraising efforts of our keepers have been a huge factor in the conservation of rhinos ( Bowling for Rhinos has donated 3.4 million dollars to rhino conservation efforts), and keepers have been invited to play a larger role in becoming the next generation to manage SSPs (Species Survival Plans) and PMPs (Population Management Plans) for everything from birds to hoofstock.
In the vendor room, Mazuri and Nebraska Brand diet companies gave out nutritional information about their diets, and the Snow Leopard Trust was selling hand made wool items (a livelihood for women in Central Asia so that the poaching of snow leopards by the herding communities they live in is no longer necessary for their survival).
We went to the Philadelphia Zoo on Wednesday and were able to see behind the scenes at many of the animal exhibits. Although we don’t have tigers or naked mole rats at the Museum, I’m always able to glean some great information by taking a look at how other keepers do things, whether it’s about safety, organization, enrichment, etc.
It’s been a really interesting week, and although I’ve been nervous for my presentation through most of it, it’s been fun. The conference helps me remember that it’s the keepers that are the ones maintaining the highest levels of care for their animals and how important we are to wildlife conservation as well. I really appreciate getting the chance to be here, and I’ll be glad to get back to NC to share the inspiring stories (and the many conference pens I’ve collected) with the other Museum keepers!