July 21, 2017

Animals in Human Care Task Force 

Based on direction from the IAAPA Board of Directors, the association in February created the IAAPA Animals in Human Care Task Force. The task force is made up of six IAAPA members who have vast, global experience in zoological attractions. They are monitoring the issues and guiding the development of tools and information that will assist IAAPA members who have animals in their care. 
  
Research and Information 
Under the guidance of the task force, IAAPA has retained the services of The Hekkers Group (including zoo and aquarium experts Jim Hekkers, Dr. Jill Mellen, and Dr. Jackie Ogden) to research, summarize, and develop easy-to-use documents to explain and contextualize public perceptions about animals in human care, describe the current state of the science of animal welfare, explain perceived best practices for animal care, and list external agencies around the globe that assess welfare and/or accredit zoological facilities. 
  
Member Toolkit 
The Hekkers Group will create a member toolkit. The toolkit will include a high-level summary of the key issues, suggestions of best practices in public outreach, a high-level summary of the perception of best practices in animal care, and guidance on conservation and animal welfare communications. It will also include a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that can be shared with frontline staff and volunteers so they can more effectively interact with and respond to visitors who have questions or concerns about animal care and conservation. 
  
The research materials and the toolkit will be available to IAAPA members this fall. 
  
IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 Education Session – Nov. 15 
The Hekkers Group will present its work and provide guidance on how to use this information and the toolkit materials during an education session at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 on Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Orlando. The session will be included in the education seminar program and will be free to IAAPA members who are registered for the Expo. 
  
Sharing and Collaboration 
The IAAPA Animals in Human Care Task Force is also working to ensure the information gathered through these activities is shared with other associations and throughout the global zoo and aquarium community. Our hope is that by working together, we can present a unified front and more effectively deliver consistent information to the public and to the press. 
  
The task force will continue to monitor developments in this area. It will assess the effectiveness of the tools developed and gather feedback from members so the efforts can be refined and developed further in the future.