Zoological Association of America
Don't miss the 12th Annual ZAA conference presented by HMS Diets in San Antonio, Texas! November 4-8, 2017

Subscribe to receive conference information. ZAA members are already subscribed.


12th Annual ZAA Conference

Presented by

HMS Diets

November 4-8, 2017  -  San Antonio, Texas



Eventbrite - ZAA 12th Annual Conference 2017 presented by HMS Zoo Diets


Registration Information

Registration Information



Registration is open


Eventbrite - ZAA 12th Annual Conference 2017 presented by HMS Zoo Diets




Conference Hotel

San Antonio Airport Hilton

611 NW Loop 410
San Antonio, Texas

(210) 340-6060


The group rate has expired.  Contact the hotel directly for reservations.



Airport Transportation

Airport Shuttle


Once you are in the airport baggage claim, contact the San Antonio Airport Hilton at (210) 340-6060 for the hotel shuttle.  The shuttle runs 24 hours/day.




Conference Schedule

Conference Schedule

schedule is subject to change

Saturday, November 4






Accreditation Inspector Training (invitation only)


Zoo Animal Training: Everyday Essentials: Exploring New Frontiers


USFWS Permit Workshop


Lunch (on own)


ZAA Accredited Facilities Meeting (accredited facility representatives only)


Record Keeping Software Training: Tracks Software


Record Keeping Software Training: Animal Care Software


AMP Meeting (AMP participants)


Sunday, November 5








Keynote Speech - Rick Berman "Managing the Humaniacs"


coffee break


Nature Education Program: Getting Families Outdoors


Tiger & Leopard - Human Conflict Mitigation in India




Best Practices for Utilizing Volunteers for Special Events


Using Eco-Friendly Art to Revitalize the Visual Landscape of Zoos




The Captive Husbandry and Reproduction of Two Species in the Family Xenosauride


Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake Project: What Are They Doing Out There?


Coffee Break


Solutions for Common Animal Behavior and Training Challenges


Generating Revenue through Educational Programming


Animal Rights' Litigation and Zoos: Nationwide Trends and Tactics


Conservation of Large Predators on Farmland Areas of South Africa


Poor Law Enforcement: A Threat for Wildlife Protection and Conservation

5:10 PM

Dinner - on own


Welcome Reception


Monday, November 6






Aquatic Systems Management Workshop


Facebook: Friend or Foe


Media: Effective and Appropriate PR Interactions

11:00 AM

Zoo Day at San Antonio Zoo - buses leave hotel


Buses arrive at hotel


Dinner - on own


Tuesday, November 7






USDA: State of Affairs for Animal Care


Disaster Response Made Easy: Infectious Diseases


coffee break


The 6th Extinction - The Importance of Good Zoos & Aquariums


Secure Zoo Strategy: Translating Biosecurity Concepts into Strategies and Tactics


Lunch & Peer Panel Discussion


Long Range Planning: ZAA Survey Results


Education Roundup: Trends in Five Topics Relevent to Facilities That Present Programs


coffee break & poster session


Grassroots Legislation Townhall


Food & Beverage Operations & Opportunities


Saola's, Pseudoryx nghetinhensis,Last Chance


Investing in a Nutrition Program is Crucial to Animal Welfare and Your Bottom Line


The Significant Hatching and Rearing of the Sunda Gharial, Tomistoma schlefelii


Dinner - on own


Mixer: Vendor Blender


Wednesday, November 8






Lucky's Tail


What Can You See? Me Too!


Inspiring Change Through Connection: Training Animals for Guest Interactions


Turtle Survival Alliance: An Unwavering Commitment to Zero Turtle Extinctions


coffee break


Dangerous Animal Escapes and Encounters - What Do We Know and Are You Prepared?


Why Investing in Animal Training Leads to a Better Visitor Experience




ZAA Business Meeting


Silent Auction/Cocktails


Auction & Awards Banquet


Post Conference Tour

There is a separate fee for the post-conference tour

November 9, 2017

Tour Austin Savanna, a private facility which raises over 115 species of animals for breeding and conservation.  The tour will also include a visit to Texas Disposal Systems, including the compost center, recycling operation, and garden center.  Check out the Post Conference Tour tab for more information.


Presentations & Abstracts


Presentations subject to change


Aquatic Systems Management
Juan Sabalones, Pecan Grove Solutions

A review and discussion of reliable, accessible resources useful in the training of staff and/or problem solving when dealing with aquatic system management issues.

Aquatic systems can be defined as follows:

  • Aquariums
  • Aquatic exhibits - without fish or invertebrates but with aquatic animals such as polar bears, otters, marine mammals, crocodilians, etc.
  • Water features - ponds, lakes, waterfalls and streams (natural and man made), which may or may not feature deliberately introduced exhibit animals
  • Various combinations of the aforementioned systems.

Issues typically arise when new aquatic exhibits are being built, existing aquatic exhibts are being renovated or there is a chronic unresolved issue with an exisiting exhibit.

The proper management of Aquaticsystems is obviously a significant factor in the bottom line for all aquariums, zoos and, increasingly, other institutions. The more efficiently they are operated the greater an institution’s ability to operate in a sustainable manner.

The various resources currently available to help in this will be reviewed and discussed.

Best Practices for Utilizing Volunteers for Special Events
Erinn Stiles, Tanganyika Wildlife Park

For many facilities, special events represent a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience and increase revenue. Often, utilizing volunteer resources is the only practical approach to implementing special events. However, the prospect of leveraging a large number of volunteers can often be a daunting task with many pitfalls to success.

During this workshop, we will examine some best practices for utilizing volunteers for special events – how to organize volunteer sign-ups, determining and communicating volunteer roles and responsibilities, volunteer recruitment, volunteer management during the event itself and what to do when things don’t go as planned.

Conservation of Large Predators including Cheetah on Farmland Areas of South Africa by Effectively Mitigating Human-Predator Conflict
Deon Cilliers, Cheetah Outreach Trust, South Africa

In order to assist farmers in the reduction of livestock losses on farms within cheetah range in South Africa, Cheetah Outreach initiated the Livestock Guarding Dog Project in in 2005. Cheetah Outreach continues placing Livestock Guarding Dogs as a means of non-lethal predator management measure and to secure habitat for cheetah and other carnivores by reducing predator conflict with farmers. Cheetah Outreach believes that the use of Livestock Guarding Dogs to manage predation is a very effective method if applied correctly and endeavors to establish the culture of using Livestock Guarding Dogs within South Africa as well as in adjacent areas within Botswana. Cheetah Outreach established a partnership with Green Dog Conservation in 2013 to manage the Irwin’s Guardian Livestock Guarding Dog Stud from which Livestock Guarding Dog puppies are bred for placement on farms by Cheetah Outreach. Cheetah Outreach has also initiated various pilot projects outside of cheetah range in South Africa to introduce livestock farmers across the country to the use of livestock guarding dogs. For this purpose Cheetah Outreach has used an indigenous breed of Africanis dog called the Maluti Highland Livestock Guarding Dog which originated from Lesotho where it has been used as a livestock guardian. The Maluti is an ideal livestock guardian for livestock farmers that have predation issues with the smaller predators such as black-backed jackal and caracal. Cheetah Outreach has placed close to 250 Livestock Guarding Dogs and has secured over 741,316.14 acres of predator friendly/tolerant farmland areas where predators can roam over freely. Cheetah Outreach has a success rate of 83 percent with the livestock guarding dog placements and a predation reduction of between 97% to 100%. Cheetah Outreach is the leading Conservation Organization In South Africa when it comes to reducing conflict from predators on farmland areas.

Dangerous Animal Escapes & Encounters - What Do We Know and Are You Prepared?
Ken Kaemmerer,  Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

In the last couple years there has seemed to be a rash of dangerous animal escapes and close encounters in zoos worldwide. While many have been resolved without harm, some have resulted in serious injuries and even death of either humans or zoo animals. These days emergency events receive immediate media attention and some are even live streamed as they occur. While the zoo industry as a whole doesn’t do a good job tracking these incidents, critics of zoos do. With historic data tracked by various anti-zoo organizations, trends and episodes ranked by species will be examined and discussed. Potential solutions for prevention as well as recommendations for emergency preparedness will be offered. A dangerous animal escape or close encounter is very costly, minimally in terms of staff time, investigations and renovations, but especially in terms of animal’s or human lives, as well as your zoo’s public reputation and eventual balance sheet. You need to prepare now.

Disaster Response Made Easy: Infectious Diseases
Dr. Jenifer Chatfield, 4J Conservation Center

Disaster response is typically complex, however infectious diseases present special considerations in their response. Infectious disease response ranges from containment to eradication and may include containment measures such as quarantine and isolation. The principles on which these decisions are made are based in science and medicine and typically made by those removed from the incident and according to protocol. Government decisions made in response to outbreaks of disease in the human population are very different from those made in response to outbreaks in animal populations although the goals are usually the same. Containment measures in disaster response are not novel concepts and are, in fact, used fairly routinely by public health officials. Unfortunately, most of the general public is unaware of these measures taken to safe guard the public health and under what authority they are executed. The recent deluge of infectious disease outbreaks including Ebola, Zika, and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, demonstrate the need for greater understanding of infectious disease
response among collection managers and owners.

Collection managers and owners need to have a good grasp of the foundation of infectious disease response and the major players in such activities in order to better position themselves and their collection for the least damage and involvement. A basic familiarity with the incident command system and the decision-making process will help private folks to better survive these events.

Education Roundup: Trends in Five Topics Relevent to Facilities That Present Programs
Betsey Brewer, Southwick's Zoo; Jackie Navarro, Wildlife Wonders; David Kleven, Animal Edutainment; Susan Kleven, Frank Buck Zoo; Erinn Stiles, Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Conservation Partners & Messaging: How facilities can develop conservation partnerships and include conservation messaging throughout programs and facilities.

Local Ordinances & Permits: Identify and meet your local officials and gain their ear. They will be the ones your facility turns to when harmful proposed ordinances arise.

Outreach-Flexibility & Managing Expectations: How to tailor your program to meet different clients needs, while making sure your needs are not compromised.

PR/Marketing - Beyond Paid Advertising: Partnerships that introduce you to influential decision makers in immediate and surrounding communities.

Summer Programs: Camps & Overnights: Best practices for program design, curriculum development, behavior management, and what to do when your programs don’t work out quite the way you intended.

Facebook: Friend or Foe
Cindi Cavallini, Facebook marketing consultant

Facebook can be a wonderful friend and marketing tool. Facebook’s power to reach potential customers, boast accomplishments, introduce animals, give zoo updates, send coupons, promote contests and giveaways, address media issues has changed the way we market our businesses and ourselves. Yet for animal enterprises, especially smaller zoos or companies who don't have or can't afford a marketing department, it may not be as easy to navigate Facebook or stay on top of comments and posts. You may not be using it to its full potential. Posts can be boosted to reach a wider audience, but you can also specify who comprises that audience and exclude demographics you don't want on your page. There are ways to craft specific posts to create a wider audience and ways to generate more likes or action on your page.

At the same time, Facebook can also become your foe! When cyber bullies attack, they are relentless. We’ll discuss ways to keep your ratings from plummeting due to fake reviews, ways to keep your customers from seeing posts from trolls, and tips to make some of this self-working and automatic. Do you know what your zoo is allowed to address on social media? Can you ban users and delete posts without violating first amendment rights? Who is allowed to answer comments or posts? Who is allowed to post photos or videos? Do you have a person who decides what photos are acceptable? Do you allow Facebook Live? How do you decide on a Facebook budget? Before you can have an effective Facebook social media strategy you need to know the answers to those questions. Our session with help you optimize your Facebook use for effective marketing, crisis management control, and establish internal guidelines for moving forward.

Food & Beverage Operations & Opportunities
Brett Taylor,  Service Systems Associates

Zoo food is growing up… Our guests have expectations that include dietary restrictions, healthy options and your traditional cultural attraction assortment. We will cover what it takes to run a successful & trendy food and beverage operation that leaves not only our guests smiling, but also our zoo’s CFOs. This happens through people, product and presentation. Join me as we take a deeper look at the 3 “P”s which will lead to higher per caps and exit survey scores.


Generating Revenue through Educational Programming
Mark Reardon, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Carefully managed educational programs can be an effective way to generate revenue in most zoological settings. Successful programs fit a programming niche, are appropriately priced, and are done in a professional manner. Effective program managers have a realistic understanding of what their organization has to offer and how their offerings compare to that of competing organizations. They also think big, but not too big!

In this session, participants will learn how to ensure that every educational program that they offer makes good financial sense. Programs with the highest revenue generating potential, as well as those that barely cover expenses,  will be examined. The importance of finding appropriate price points, knowing when to charge more and when to charge less based on a program’s characteristics, will also be discussed.

Finally, individual types of programming, such as outreaches, overnights and summer camps, will be evaluated in terms of revenue generating potential. Emphasis will be placed on using financial resources, such as supply cost, staff time, and advertising, in a manner that maximizes program revenue and limits program expenses.

Grassroots Legislation Townhall

Inspiring Change Through Connection: Training Animals for Guest Interactions
LynnLee Schmidt, Downtown Aquarium Denver

The Downtown Aquarium is home to 26 individual animal ambassadors. With these animals, the staff has taken on the challenge to create hands-on, up close, unique experiences. During these 30 minute "meet and greets" guests might get the opportunity to smell a binturong, watch a sloth chew, listen to a porcupine's quills rattle, or see a parrot recycle. While the guests think they're merely having fun, staff members are sneaking in facts, conservation messages, and inspiring change through connection. Behind the scenes trainers work to ensure these animals are comfortable in a myriad of situations including taking cues from guests and posing for photographs.

Five years ago it was apparent there was a demand for sloth encounters so we started offering sloth meet and greets. Building a program that would meet the demand for personal encounters, exceed guests' expectations, and keep animal welfare as the number one priority required some changes and came with a fair share of challenges. We evaluated our current animal collection and began planning to add more animals that could be used in these interactive encounters. We quickly realized this would not be a one size fits all approach. Through careful collection planning, a lot of training and hiring the right people, we were able to add more meet and greet options. We touched the lives of over 4,000 guests last year and our revenue has doubled and almost tripled each year.

Investing in a Nutrition Program is Crucial to Animal Welfare and Your Bottom Line
Ann M. Ward, MS, Fort Worth Zoo

Appropriate nutrition is fundamental to providing for the welfare of any size collection. The positive impact on animal care through the formulation and constant evaluation/reevaluation of diets is difficult to quantify. Diet formulation is a complex process best described as a matrix of health, requirements, consumption, and management (Crissey, 2005). Requests for the “ideal” diet for a species or recommendations that can meet the needs of all individuals are unrealistic. Diet formulation is continuous – a change in any aspect of the matrix can cause a cascade of changes throughout, all ultimately impacting the diet formulation. While a staff nutritionist can best manage the nutritional health of a collection, consultants can contribute to successful programs. A successful program goes beyond diet formulation to establishing a consistent link between appropriate diets and their provision (Maslanka, 2015). Often the largest part of any institution’s budget is the food bill. Fiscal efficiency encompasses not only planning and pricing current diets but also working costs into longer term collection plans and appropriate building of food handling/storage areas. With a focus on ingredient waste (inventory overruns, acceptance of poor quality food items that spoil quickly, overfeeding animals/exhibit, etc) an institution can often, at least initially, offset the cost of the services of a trained nutritional professional. A financially responsible program should include negotiation of feed contracts, critical evaluation of feed manufacturers, establishment of quality control programs, and adjustment of feeds/ingredients based on availability, sustainability, and cost. Qualified individuals/services and resources exist to guide institutions to provide appropriate nutrition for their collections.


Long Range Planning - ZAA Survey Results
Dr. Barbara Baker, ZAA Board of Directors


Lucky’s Tail
Jonathan Reding, San Antonio Zoo

Lucky has been at the San Antonio Zoo since April of 1962. Throughout her time at the San Antonio Zoo, she has had many exhibit companions. Her latest, before now, was Boo and she was here from April 2010 – March 2013. Lucky and Boo never really bonded from the start and never went well. After Boo’s death, Lucky showed signs of relief to be alone. We saw signs of her laying down again overnight and was closer to her trainers.

A search had started to find her another companion, with very strict guidelines. Not just any elephant would do, we needed to find the perfect elephant for Lucky. We were not in any hurry because we wanted to do this right.

In 2015, a new Giraffe exhibit was opened right next to our Elephant exhibit which had a rain garden built in to help with our water conservation. Plans were then made to continue the rain garden into our Elephant exhibit. During that project, we were able to increase the size of the exhibit, resign the layout of the pool and fill in the moat.

While the construction was going on, officials from the San Antonio Zoo traveled to Florida to meet with Feld Entertainment at their Center for Elephant Conservation to meet Nicole. Arrangements were made at that time to receive Nicole at the San Antonio Zoo. She arrived about 7:00 am on a Monday morning and she was walked into the exhibit to meet Lucky. We did a “howdy” for the first day, alternating Lucky and Nicole in the yard and barn. First reactions were very positive with great interactions between to two. It was decided by all that we would do yard introductions the following day. All we went and everyone is very proud of the bond Lucky and Nicole has formed.

Without the help from the Center of Elephant Conservation, we could not have achieved the milestones that we have now.

Media: Effective and Appropriate PR Interactions
Tracy Gray, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Can media and PR professionals have strong relationships?  The simple answer is yes, of course. But the bigger question is how to define that relationship?

PR Professionals know that good relationships with media helps in coverage of stories for your organization and of course media believes that the relationship is a two way street. So a reporter reaches out wanting some information that would not normally be released or isn't ready for release? What does the PR Professional do? Do you ignore the request, say you don't know anything or tell what you know but ask the reporter to hold off on that information? When does the relationship cross the professional line and how to deal with the situation. How much sharing of information is too much? Discuss how media relationship are beneficial and what and how to deal with difficult situations.


Nature Education Program: Getting Families Outdoors
Billy Martin & Rebecca Gonzales, Fort Worth Zoo

Texas Nature Traders provides an opportunity for families to explore together, overall learning about local ecology and conservation. The program is open to the public daily, allowing our nature traders to visit often and reaches most zoo visitors. This allow us to build relationships with families every day. Jonathan Connor researched other nature programs that led him to develop Texas Nature Traders, giving his spin to the idea. Our main goals are firstly to have a hands-on education and secondly to offer a program that would push attendance and Zoo memberships, while operating on a small budget. After two years of preparation the program had an inventory, sponsors, and a list of what kids can trade-in. Starting out with our traders on a paper system, we now have an online software that stores the trades, points, and information of our traders. This allows us to use our trader’s data to develop new programs and target traders for existing programs with mailing lists. After four years of Texas Nature Traders being open, our program has over 4,000 traders. The children and parents both enjoy the one-on-one lessons regarding their nature items found outdoors in their own backyards. This connects them more to their local wildlife and gets the entire family outdoors learning. During a trade, we connect their item with zoo animals, conservation efforts, and what they can do at home to help wildlife whether in Texas or abroad. A child can bring in an acorn which may seem simple, however our staff can make it a conversation about Texas habitats, positive land stewardship, the amazing biodiversity of Texas and conservation as a whole. Texas Nature Trader staff are constantly building new programs and activities to reach more people, getting them outdoors and discovering something new every day!

Poor Law Enforcement: A Threat for Wildlife Protection and Conservation
Mahmood Afzal Awan, Lahore High Court, Lahore Pakistan

Pakistan is biodiversity hotspot because its unique ecosystems provide home to various the ecological important species of wildlife. The poor wildlife law enforcement is biggest constrain for conservation of its biodiversity. Due to illegal trade the country is losing its splendid natural fauna. Similarly the world around the globe also suffering from extraordinary rushes in illegal trade of wildlife. These wildlife crimes threaten ecosystems and degraded habitat, which are imposing pressure on endangered wildlife species. According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) among the transnational crimes the wildlife crime is third-largest crime after drugs and human trafficking. The current research was aimed to check the implementation of Wildlife act and reported cases of illegal wildlife trade. The field surveys, printed literature, meetings with concerned departments and locals revealed that strategic location of Pakistan is easily reachable with the roads, sea and air for this kind of trade. The popular or most wanted species for illegal wildlife trade included turtles and tortoises (subspecies), snakes and others reptiles, falcons, pangolins, foxes, jackals, otters, and wolves sharks. Some invertebrates were also captured from wild for this purpose like scorpions. The lack of effective administration and poor law enforcement has been resulted in persistent and increased unreported wildlife crimes. The capacity building of law enforcement organizations, awareness of masses and research may develop new useful strategies in this regard.

Saola’s, Pseudoryx nghetinhensis, Last Chance
Bill Robichaud, IUCN SSC Saola Working Group

The Saola’s (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) story is an extraordinary one, and extraordinary measures in the next few years are now needed to ensure that it does not end tragically.

The scientific discovery of the Saola in the forests of Vietnam in 1992 stunned the world. Few biologists imagined that a species so large and distinctive could remain undetected by the outside world until the final years of the twentieth century. Due to ubiquitous and uncontrolled poaching using wire cable snares across the range of the Saola, twenty five years after its dramatic discovery, the world stands to lose this remarkable animal without urgent and strategic action.

The IUCN SSC Saola Working Group is a partnership of individuals from the conservation, academic, and zoo communities, working together to save the Saola from imminent extinction. We have developed a holistic one-plan-approach for the Saola encompassing securing political and civil society support for the program, capturing Saola from the wild, establishing a conservation breeding center in Vietnam, and long-term securing of core Saola habitat for an eventual reintroduction program.

An MoA with the government of Vietnam will be signed in November, and the conservation breeding center’s location has been identified and construction is due to begin soon. The center should be ready to receive animals in early 2018. The endemic and Critically Endangered Large-antlered Muntjac will be used to demonstrate the success of a capture program to the government, providing an opportunity to save two species for the price of one. We plan to start capturing Saola in mid 2018. No scientist has seen a Saola in the wild, and no western vet has had the honor of caring for a Saola, so we face significant challenges, but also a single, time-bound opportunity to save the Saola from extinction.

We are calling for the help of the zoo community to join us in our quest to save the Saola.

Secure Zoo Strategy: Translating Biosecurity Concepts into Strategies and Tactics
Dr. Yvonne Nadler, ZAHP Fusion Center

For the last several years, subject matter experts from the exotic animal industry, state and federal response agencies, and academia have worked to deliver tools for Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) preparedness. This initiative, known as Secure Zoo Strategy (SZS), builds upon the successful, industry-driven preparedness planning that has occurred in the milk, pork, poultry and beef industries and adapts it for the exotic animal industry.

These food-supply industries have recognized that FADs, no matter where they might break out in the US, represent a significant threat to their business continuity. FAD detection significantly impacts to the ability to transport and sell agricultural products both domestically and internationally…and our industry WILL be affected by this response. The detection of an FAD such as Foot-and-Mouth disease will seriously change the way the exotic animal industry is able do business. This presentation will update the audience on SZS progress since it was first introduced to the Zoological Association of America at the 2015 meeting. The new website will be shared, along with important guidance documents, a mapping tool, and various preparedness checklists to assist any facility in biosecurity and preparedness planning for foreign and emerging diseases.


Solutions for Common Animal Behavior and Training Challenges
Barbara Heidenreich, Barbara's Force Free Animal Training

Is your squeeze full of cobwebs because your animals are afraid to enter it? Do you start shifting animals in at 3 PM or withhold diets just in case they won’t shift in a timely manner at the end of the day? Do you have to feed continuously to keep an animal in place for medical procedures? Do you have a big cat that bangs at the shift door or an orangutan that spits? Does aggressive behavior towards people or conspecifics hinder progress? Are you convinced you have a stubborn individual that is just too lazy to participate in training? Or are you just having trouble getting a new behavior started? Science based training technology offers non coercive solutions to these behavior challenges and others. This presentation will provide easy to understand explanations of how to apply learning theory principles to overcome training challenges, fine tune your technique, take training skills to the next level and achieve behavior your goals.

State of Affairs for Animal Care
Bernadette Juarez, Deputy Administrator, Animal Care, USDA


Status and Diunal Activity Pattern of Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) at Saline Wetland in Pakistan
Dr. Shabana Naz, Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, Govt.College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan

The status and activity pattern of Greater Flamingos (P. r. roseus) at Uchalli Lake, Pakistan, was studied in March and April 2017. A total of 192 birds in three flocks (adults=115, juveniles=77) came to lake in 2017with highest number (152) birds in April. Total used days by birds were 24 in two months and were studied for 13 days. A total of 52 hours were spent observing their behavior. Feeding was the major activity with 51.06% of the time spent. For walking (10.965%), resting (10.87%), flying (10.42%), alert (8.30%), preening (5.77%) and aggression (2.63%). Three activities that differed significantly across time periods were feeding (KW=18.27, P < 0.05), flying (KW=23.91, P < 0.05) and aggression (KW=14.05, P < 0.05). Feeding peaked in afternoon (61.03%, SD = ±8.15) and was lowest in the morning (35.51%, SD = ±17.67). The peaks in aggression were similar to feeding during all blocks. Resting, flying and aggression peaked in morning. Walking was more in the afternoon (12.31%, SD = ±6.40) while preening was more in the late afternoon (7.44%, SD = ±6.03).

Surveys of Zoological Gardens in Punjab to Access their Role in Public Education and Animal Welfare
Dr. Bushra Nisar Khan, Quaid-e-Azam Campus, University of Punjab, Lahore Paksitan

Keeping of wildlife in captivity was a continuous evolutionary practice for amusement of mankind. But now these captive sites have to play their role for public education and animal welfare as well other than recreation. According to World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA) annually more than 700 million visitors come to zoos of the world therefore these captive facilities are unique platform to educate the general public about animal welfare and conservation. The current research was intended to evaluate the role of Bahawalpur Zoological Garden, Marghazar Zoological Garden and Lahore Zoological Gardens for public education and animal welfare. To generate the data frequent visits of sites and meeting with zoo personals were arranged and a total of 500 questionnaires were also distributed among visitors from different walks of life. Results indicated that Lahore Zoological Garden was better among all the selected Zoos for education of masses and animal welfare. The findings also revealed that management of other zoos followed Lahore Zoo as role model in different aspects of animal handling like animal feeding charts, habitat designing and veterinary facilities. Even though Lahore Zoo still need improvement for animal record keeping, inbreeding issues, habitat designing, animal enrichment and collection plan, veterinary care facilities and nutrition. Among zoos under surveys a public education and awareness programme was only present at Lahore Zoo although it was not properly planned and designed to convey the message of animal welfare in true sense but it was still source of attraction and motivation for 60% of visitors especially students.

Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake Project: What Are They Doing Out There?
Craig Pelke, Director of Ectotherms, San Antonio Zoo

The Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake (Crotalus morulus) is a small species of rattlesnake with a limited range in Mexico stretching from southwest Coahuila, through central Nuevo Leon southward to southwest Tamaulipas in the Sierra Madre Oriental. Through personal communication with David Lazcano of the Laboratorio de Herpetología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas (FCB), Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), there seems to be a lack of baseline information on this rattlesnake’s annual activities and movements. While general information is known about C. morulus’ habitat, details on microhabitat preferences are unknown. The focus of this study will be to observe and note the annual activity and population structure of rattlesnakes (Crotalus sp.) in the Puerto Cieneguillas, Galeana area of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Primary focus will be directed on the Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnake (C. morulus) with secondary focus on the Eastern Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei miquihuanus) and the Mexican Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus nigrescens) in representative locations of their home range. Along with monitoring of annual activity, data will be collected on the microhabitat and more specifically the characterization of the plant community. It is reported that this study may be the first of its kind for Tamaulipan Rock Rattlesnakes, and the results could produce important information regarding microhabitat preference, home range, seasonal habitat preference, and population structure. Information gained from this study could lead to improved land management practices in the event portions of their home range are scheduled for development, logging, and/or agricultural purposes.

The 6th Extinction – The Importance of Good Zoos & Aquariums
Brad Andrews, American Humane Association

In a sobering exploration of the magnitude of humanity’s impact on global ecosystems and species populations, we are reminded that while extinction in and of itself is a natural and necessary process, the current rate of extinction is truly troubling – manifest at a pace 100 – 1000 faster than the (pre-human) background extinction rate. Through an examination of recent history through the present day, we are reminded of what we’ve already lost and what we are on the verge of losing. This stark vision is tempered, however, with several illustrative examples of efforts – initiated and stewarded through the deep expertise and unique capabilities of some of the world’s foremost zoological leaders – to reverse course and reimagine a more abundant and diverse future. In a straightforward examination of our time, this discourse around the 6th Extinction delivers a clear-headed assessment of our current global circumstances while lifting up some of the most noteworthy examples of intentional, expert, and hopeful wildlife stewardship in practice today.

The Captive Husbandry and Reproduction of Two Species in the Family Xenosauride
Clinton Szymanski, San Antonio Zoo

The family Xenosauridae is composed of the single genus Xenosaurus native only to Mexico and Guatemala. Xenosaurus sp. are specialized crevice dwellers and are viviparous. They inhabit a variety of habitats at elevations from 300 to 2600 meters. Each species’ distribution is disjunct and often restricted to a single mountain range. We will detail the strategies that we have employed at the San Antonio Zoo to successfully care for and breed two species: Xenosaurus grandis and X. platyceps. Due to their restricted ranges, specialized habitat, habitat destruction, and popularity in the pet trade Xenosaurus sp. would be good candidates for captive conservation efforts.

The Significant Hatching and Rearing of the Sunda Gharial, Tomistoma schlegelii
Craig Pelke, Director, Ectotherms, San Antonio Zoo

In June of 2016, the San Antonio Zoo’s female Sunda gharial produced a clutch of eggs that were promptly collected for artificial incubation. After 86 days of incubation, the first egg pipped, and within a week 12 neonate Sunda gharials had hatched. This event produced the largest number of hatchlings for one clutch as well as the most number of successfully hatched clutches, resulting in the San Antonio Zoo becoming the most successful institution AZA/ZAA in the reproduction of this large crocodilian. San Antonio Zoo’s Herpetology staff took this opportunity to begin collecting growth data and make behavioral observations as the young crocodiles grew. A young group of professionals also learned some valuable husbandry experience while raising baby crocodilians. University colleagues also collaborated with the San Antonio Zoo to collect data for a skin color changing trait study.

Tiger & Leopard - Human Conflict Mitigation in India
Dr. Madhurita Gupta, Myvets Charitable Trust & Research Centre

Conflict between Wildlife and Humans are increasing globally with the habitat destruction and the increase in the population of tigers, elephants and leopards in India. With the aim to develop a technology for safe handling of Wildlife – Human Conflicts “Myvets Charitable Trust & Research Centre” innovated “ Wildlife Rescue Ambulance with smart features ‘’ & “Wildlife Rescue Bike“. In most of the reported cases of Leopard rescue during conflicts majority of forest officials gets injured and there are incidences wherein villagers also got injuried during the rescue operation while going near the leopards as conflict creates fear in the mind of people and they counterreact by beating the wildlife to death or by killing them directly.

New technologies will revolutionize the way we handle the Wildlife–Human Conflicts and Endangered Mammals conservation at global level , it can be used as a effective and powerful tool for wildlife conflicts mitigation worldwide. The device has been used in India in wildlife terrain and is very effective to provide safety to the forest officials & wildlife Veterinarians during the Leopard – Human Conflicts, Night Patrolling and during tranquilization of wild leopards & tigers for rescue.

Turtle Survival Alliance: An Unwavering Commitment to Zero Turtle Extinction
Rick Hudson, Turtle Survival Alliance

Organized in 2001, the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) was formed in response to the Asian Turtle Crisis and the need engage multiple sectors in the development of captive management strategies to prevent the extinction of species. Today the TSA has an overarching Commitment to Zero Turtle Extinctions, is widely recognized as a catalyst for turtle conservation globally, and focuses on species ranked Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. An action oriented partnership organization, the TSA employs multiple tactics to secure species both in captivity and the wild. The TSA has built an extensive network of conservation partners around the world and today manages rescue centers, assurance colonies, or headstarting programs in 12 countries, including Asia, Madagascar and Central/South America. These captive programs, coupled with field research, capacity building and community engagement, have led to successful reintroduction efforts for several species. Finally, as part of our Commitment to Zero Turtle Extinctions, the TSA began developing the Turtle Survival Center (TSC) in South Carolina in 2013, dedicated to saving species that were either extinct in the wild, or believed heading in that direction. Today the TSC manages over 700 specimens of 30 critically endangered or endangered species, and employes five full-time employees. A significant portion of the TSC’s capital campaign and development was funded by the zoo and aquarium community, which continues to direct support to our operating budget. The TSA nonprofit foundation (501 c 3) registered in the State of Texas and based at the Fort Worth Zoo. This presentation will introduce the TSA to members of the ZAA community and illustrate ways that they can help prevent turtle extinctions.

Using Eco-Friendly Art to Revitalize the Visual Landscape of Zoos
Evan Lovett, Visual Urban Renewal & Transformation

V.U.R.T specializes in the rehabilitation and revitalization of urban environments however, the principles and practices are universal to any visual landscape. The work we do in the cities and urban environments is to uplift the spirits of the public and give them something visuallyappealing by adding art to what already exists. This work transforms sterile landscapes, neglected areas, or simply unnoticed empty spaces into captivating visual pieces with the ability to carry messaging, as well as beautification. Large scale murals can renew and/or rebrand buildings in a cost-effective manner, due to the V.U.R.T’s use of reclaimed materials.

The creative problems needed to be solved when dealing with publicinteractive spaces such as a zoo, can break down into four things. These creative challenges affect visitors, staff members’ goals and the animal residents. For the zoo guests, we need to address the directive of what do you want them to see? What information needs to be present and where should that go? The next goal to address is how to keep them interested and stimulated while interacting with such an environment. The second directive involves the goals of staff members. What do you want the guests to not see or notice or interact with? How do wecamouflage these areas of “dead space” in such a way that the guests are still stimulated but not distracted from the information that is most important? Then there are the resident animals. What is the safest and mostefficient way to design and install backgrounds and themes to theirenclosures that meet their needs? This presentation will show how to use and apply art to address these challenges in a manner that relies upon eco-friendly practices for the budget conscious facility looking for options for transforming visual spaces.

What Can You See? Me Too!
Barbara Brem, ZooLex Zoo Design Organization

Visitors to zoos and aquariums come both for recreation and for learning, but their main objective is to see animals. So when they can’t see one or more animals on exhibit, opportunities are lost. Even worse, they may climb on or trespass barriers in order to see the animals. We, therefore need to make sure that we understand “what our visitors see” … literally see. We need to look at exhibits from their perspective.

Although understanding the visitor perspective seems obvious, we should remember that our facilities including all visitor, staff and animal areas are designed and maintained by adults who are generally ablebodied and between the height of 5’-6” to 6’-6” while our visitors are not all adults, are not all over 5-foot in height, and are not similarly mobile. The resulting differences in views seen by invested groups can lead to experiences that are not anticipated or planned.

During this presentation, we will examine how visual experiences within our visitor areas differ based on eye level. We will compare examples of exhibit barriers, seating opportunities, and pathways configuration based on the eye level of the average adult, child, and toddler. We will also examine the visual experiences of visitors who utilize wheelchairs, strollers, and carts. We will conclude with a review of design options that may improve the visual experience for all visitors and that may reduce liability and undesirable behaviors.

Why Investing in Animal Training Leads to a Better Visitor Experience
Hillary Hankey, Avian Behavior International

Human and animal education and ambassador teams are highly effective tools to bridge the gap in the typical zoo visitor’s perception of the role zoo animals play in global conservation and provide a one-on-one discourse about natural behavior. They also provide critical interpretative data that allows guests to walk away with a better understanding of the zoo’s own efforts in conservation programs. The success of each program at its facility rests on the quality of education and experience in the trainers and the careful selection of the individual animal ambassador. Just as the right animal trainer isn’t born but developed through investment of education and application, so the right animal is not plucked from an enclosure but selected early and given the right start through the careful application of positive reinforcement and fear free socialization. This presentation uses learning theory principles to understand what it takes to build this front line of education and entertainment to provide a dynamic visitor experience, whether it is a free flying bird show or a wildlife encounter to engage zoo visitors in the message of proactive preservation.


Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker

Rick Berman

Berman & Company


"Managing the Humanaics"



In 1987, Rick Berman founded Berman and Company, a full-service research and communications firm. Prior to that Rick was employed as an attorney for Bethlehem Steel, The Dana Corporation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Executive Vice President for Pillsbury.

Berman and Company consistently excels in getting its clients’ and donor messages placed before the public through aggressive media outreach. Berman and Company spokespeople regularly appear on television and radio programs and place over 350 Opinion Editorials in major newspapers every year. Rick and his firm have been extensively profiled for their work in a variety of media outlets including CNBC, CNN, 60 Minutes, the Colbert Report, Rachel Maddow, TIME, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

Berman and Company takes a creative approach to advocacy and is frequently honored for its unique style. Issue advocacy through paid media, internet, TV, radio, and street theater have earned Berman over 180 national awards for creative messaging. Millions of people access Berman-created websites annually. These sites raise awareness and “Change the Debate” on issues regarding animal liberation activists, employment, public school reform, energy, and regulation of foods and beverages.

Berman has also lectured graduate and undergraduate classes at various universities.

A native of New York City, Berman is a graduate of Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky, and earned his Juris Doctorate from the law school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is admitted to practice in Virginia and the District of Columbia.


Workshop - Zoo Animal Training: Everyday Essentials

Workshop - Zoo Animal Training - Everyday Essentials: Exploring New Frontiers

November 4, 2017 - 9:00am - 5:00pm

Science based training technology has improved animal welfare, enhanced guest experiences, simplified husbandry procedures, addressed behavior problems, provided enrichment opportunities, facilitated ground breaking research and contributed to conservation success. It is no surprise that zoos around the world are seeing the benefits of developing staff members’ practical application skills as well as their understanding of the learning theory behind animal training. The development of skilled trainers has led to innovations in species being trained, behaviors attained and technology being developed. This workshop will explore the basic foundations of zoo animal training for professionals looking to get started, as well as exciting advancements and opportunities for established training programs. Participants will be empowered with tools to get started, and inspired by video examples from around the world. Join this fun and informative workshop to learn how this rapidly developing scientifically based aspect of animal care is impacting the zoological profession for the better.

Seats are limited – Sign up for the workshop when you register for the ZAA conference!

Presenter Bio

Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional in the field of animal training since 1990. She provides consulting services to zoos, nature centers and other animal facilities. She lectures regularly to the veterinary community. She is an adjunct instructor at Texas A & M University, Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. In her career she has trained animals, trained staff, lectured and/or presented shows at over 60 animal facilities around the world. Barbara teaches learning theory as described by the science of behavior analysis. She is also passionate about teaching excellent animal training practical application skills. Barbara is thrilled to have had the opportunity to train thousands of animals, from rabbits to rhinos. This hands-on practice with so many different individual animals has been invaluable to helping her provide caregivers the tools they need to solve behavior problems and reach their animal training objectives. Her goal is to leave behind a legacy of kindness to animals by sharing her expertise. Learn more at https://barbarasffat.com/about/

Workshop - USFWS Permits

Workshop - US Fish & Wildlife Service Permits

November 4, 2017 - 9:00am - 12:00pm

Tim Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Permits, US Fish and Wildlife Service will host a workshop on Fish and Wildlife permits. 

More information coming soon


Seats are limited – Sign up for the workshop when you register for the ZAA conference!


Workshop - Animal Recordkeeping Software Training

Workshop - Animal Recordkeeping Software Training

November 4, 2017 - 1:00pm - 5:00pm


Hands on training for two different animal recordkeeping programs.  This is designed for current users, but you are welcome to attend to explore and learn about these programs.

Seats are limited – Sign up for the workshop when you register for the ZAA conference!

Tracks Software - 1:00pm-3:00pm


Animal Care Software - 3:00pm - 5:00pm


Post Conference Tour - Austin Savanna

Post Conference Tour


Thursday - November 9, 2017

Join us for a rare opportunity to visit and tour Austin Savanna.

Tour participants will board buses leaving the Hilton at 9:00am on Thursday morning. The first stop is a tour of Texas Disposal Systems, (approximately 10:30am) to view the impressive 2,000 acre multi-platform facility including compost center, recycling operation and garden center.  Lunch will be provided. The afternoon tour will consist of Austin Savanna and the Exotic Game Ranch. Tour participants will board buses in the late afternoon and return to the Hilton at approximately 5pm.

Austin Savanna is a private facility located in the Austin, Texas area which raises over 115 species of animals for the purposes of breeding and conservation. Austin Savanna works to build sustainable herds of many rare and endangered species, as well as working to build herds to be reintroduced to their native countries.


*There is a separate fee for the post-conference tour.

San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals representing 750 species on 56 acres. The Zoo's newest three-phase exhibit, Africa Live!, showcases Nile hippo, crocodile, African cichlids, colobus monkey, okapi and giraffe.


The Zoo Day tour will be at the San Antonio Zoo on Novmeber 6, 2017.  Tour the zoo on your own.  There will be some special behind-the-scenes experiences too.

Don't miss seeing the Microesian kingfishers, Guam rails, Whooping cranes, Komodo dragons, okapi, Mexican pitvipers, babirusa, wreathed hornbills, Layzon teal, gharial, tomistoma, Angolan colobus and many more!




Presenting Partner











Supporting Partner









Addax Mark-It Company

Animal Equipment by Stoney


Cold River Mining


Radio Boss

Reliable Protein Products

Safari Ltd.

SR Scales


Spalding Labs

Tomahawk Live Trap

Tracks Software

Zoo Med



Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo

Asian Elephant Support

Longhorn Organics

Safari Enterprises



Visit San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

Click here for a San Antonio Visitor's Guide



Exhibitor Information

Exhibitor Information


Please contact Gavin Livingston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (816) 813-0696 for exhibitor and sponsorship information.


Download Exhibitor flyer here


Click here for online payment