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Zoo Best Practices Working Group


The mission of the Zoological Best Practices Working Group is to promote a culture of all hazards contingency planning and preparedness for the managed wildlife community. To that end, the group will research, prepare, review and disseminate documents to assist facilities in drafting their own contingency plans. The Working Group will encourage facilities to work with first responders, local emergency management and other stakeholders to draft useful plans that are integrated into their jurisdictional emergency management infrastructure.

While some managed wildlife facilities already have written contingency plans in place, a proposed change to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations would require all licensees and registrants to develop their own unique plans. Regardless, all managed wildlife facilities share unique challenges when it comes to contingency planning.

Depending on the species, there may be substantial challenges to emergency care and treatment, obtaining transportation resources, and arranging alternate housing during disasters. Considerable attention must also be paid to general business contingency planning issues, such as managing staff, financial continuity, data preservation, communications, and recovery.

These documents have been designed as a starting point for basic information on drafting contingency plans. The Working Group materials contain basic planning recommendations and best practices in a ‘check box’ format.

Emergency planners must remember that emergencies start and end locally. Therefore, many wildlife facilities cannot create an effective plan without the help of the local jurisdictional authorities such as law enforcement and fire departments. These professionals, along with local jurisdictional emergency managers and other stakeholders will assist a facility in drafting plans that can be integrated into the local response structure. They may also assist the facilities that are part of the public sector in determining the best format to use for their written plans.


The first workshop of the ZBPWG was held in January 2010 at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo to consider potential disasters and emergency preparedness. Participants included those from various animal industry groups, and a diverse group of dedicated experts. The history of zoos and exotic animal facilities and disasters was discussed. Compelling presentations were made by representatives from Central Florida Zoo, Audubon Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo as they shared their experiences responding to major disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Hazards unique to this distinctive community, such as the inherent danger of working around exotic animals, were debated. These early exercises prepared the way for conducting research and drafting documents to guide those who manage wildlife on how to write useful plans for their own facilities.

JANUARY 2010 CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS (Click to view, Esc to close)

This project was cooperatively funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Animal Care (AC) program. Dr. Yvonne Nadler with the Lincoln Park Zoo directed the project. The project was overseen for USDA APHIS by Dr. Kevin Dennison.
The members of the working group included collaborators from zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, animal sanctuaries, exotic game ranchers, veterinarians, and USDA. The documents available here represent this collaboration.

Jereme Altendorf
US Coast Guard
Gene Field
Illinois Dept. Agriculture
Frank Kohn
US Fish & Wildlife
Larry Rivarde
Audubon Institute
Lori Arent
The Raptor Center
Patty Finch
Glob'l Fed Anim'l Sanct.
Jim Kunkle
IL Dept Agriculture
Ian Robinson
In'l Fnd Anim'l Welf're
William Baker
Panthera Research
Ray Flynn
Jeanie Lin
Megan Ross
Lincoln Park Zoo
Dawn Barksdale
Laurie Gage
Mark Lloyd
Humane Society
Anna Ruman
Gretchen Bickert
Phoenix Zoo
Katie Gillespie
Lincoln Park Zoo
Bonnie Lockwood
Lincoln Park Zoo
Rachel Santymire
Lincoln Park Zoo
Jeleen Briscoe
Nick Gilman
Glob'l Fed Anim'l Sanct.
Mike Mace
S. Diego Zoo Safari
Karen Shenoy
Wildlife Rehab. MN.
Anthony Brown
San Francisco Zoo
Dick Green
Int. Fn. Anim'll Welf're
Lynn McDuffie
Disney Anim'l K'gd'm
Denise Sofranko
Gail Buhl
The Raptor Center
Phil Gruzalski
Joe Montisano
Central Florida Zoo
Evan Sorley
Lincoln Park Zoo
Heather Case
Marisa Hickey
Lincoln Park Zoo
Yvonne Nadler
Lincoln Park Zoo
Aubrey Tauer
Lincoln Park Zoo
Gordon Cleveland
Allan Hogue
Ann Olson
Roosevelt Park Zoo
Steve Thompson
Lincoln Park Zoo
Pam Dennis
Cleveland Zoo
David Jarvis
St. Louis Zoo
Steve Olson
Edward Wilkerson
Lincoln Park Zoo
Kevin Dennison
Amy Jarisa-Smith
Kristy Pabilonia
Colorado State U
Michelle Willette
The Raptor Center
Cindy DiGeswaldo
Ken Kirstein
Rene Poirrier NASAAEEP
Richard Winters
Texas Animal Health
Cheryl Eia
Iowa State University
Anne Knapp
Zoo New England
Bryan Quick
Lincoln Park Zoo
Kurt Zitzner
Lincoln Park Zoo
Curtis Eng
LA Zoo & Botanical
Barb Kohn USDA Leslie Reed Wildlife Rehab. MN.    


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