Workshop Summaries

The following are summaries of workshops being offered during the 2011 National AAZK Conference.

All workshops are available for registration on our website.

Tracks were made for those interested in following a certain topic. The Animal Welfare and Enrichment workshops will include all tracks even if they are listed for a specific taxa.

Once you have reviewed all the workshop summaries, please return to our workshop page to register for the workshops you are interested in. There are limited spaces in most of the workshops so be sure to sign up soon.


Koala Husbandry Workshop August 25, 2011 @ 2-6 PM
This is a two part workshop.  Part one will incorporate husbandry techniques and theory and will take place in a classroom setting at the conference.  Part two will cover practical applications of working with koalas and will take place on zoo grounds during Zoo Day.

Carnivore Neonate August 25, 2011 @ 6-8 PM
The carnivore neonatal care workshop is designed to give all the basics of neonatal care for those working with carnivores.  The workshop will include understanding gastric capacity, formula selection and scheduling, calculation, and nipple selection.

Carnivore Nutrition August 25, 2011 @ 3-5 PM
The basics of carnivore nutrition are covered in this workshop, including but not limited to: nutritional requirements, digestive tracts, diet selection, wet versus dry food, fasting theories, body condition scoring, stool quality and food storage.

Communication: Online Resources August 25, 2011 @ 2-3 PM
This will be a workshop on information gathering using the online resources.  This one hour workshop will give beginning and intermediate levels of the vast networking resources and search engines that keepers can use to help with research and information gathering.

Crisis Management & Safety August 25, 2011 @ 4-6 PM

Neonate Setup August 25, 2011 @ 3-4 PM
This workshop will cover the basics of how to set up a nursery, whether on exhibit or as a separate building.

Bird Nest Building August 25, 2011 @ 2-4 PM
Abstract:  Zoos today are regularly faced with small populations of species with limited gene diversity.  There are countless variables that stand in the way of making these populations sustainable, some of which we can control and others we can’t.  Providing the right nesting materials for these birds, no doubt plays a major role in achieving this goal.  Zoos, aquariums and private breeders must support each other and share knowledge to maximise the breeding success of target species.

This workshop will examine a variety of techniques for designing and building bird nests and nest boxes.  With collectively over 70 year’s experience of breeding birds in captivity, the presenters will guide keepers through real and hypothetical challenges of breeding various species.  This work space is designed to talk not only about success stories, but also to be introspective and learn from our mistakes as well.

Professional Growth: PBI Leadership August 25, 2011 @ 2-6 PM
The Case for Urgency: Incorporating conservation messages about reducing CO to save species challenged by the impacts of global warming.

Communicating isn’t enough!  It isn’t enough for us to just provide information about what climate change is and how it impacts plant and animal species in various regions of the world.  While information is necessary for individuals to understand the issues and make informed decisions, we shouldn’t be satisfied that it is enough for our guests to understand. We must strive for our guests to act.

This 3 hour workshop will include two sections:

Presentation and discussion of the basics of climate change science with updates on current questions and a review of the literature about what we know about the public’s attitudes and behavior about climate change and how to influence our guests to act.  Participants will receive a resource list of websites to continue to follow to keep up-to-date.

Demonstrations and practice on how we can enhance our messages and approaches in communicating the environmental issues facing animals today.  A sampling of best practices to incorporate key messaging geared toward inspiring people to act will be provided.

For the past two years, AAZK in partnership with Polar Bears International provides a week long camp experience in Churchill,, Manitoba, Canada during the polar bear migration.  Camp is designed to inform, inspire, and empower keepers with information and tools to motivate their constituents.  The experience focuses on communication and presentation skills, creative planning, and program execution especially with regard to global warming and its effects on polar bears, but applicable to many species around the world. These highly motivated keepers help PBI reach a wide audience with our joint conservation message back in their own community in addition to their leadership roles in AAZK or their institution.


Hoof Stock Hands on Tamer August 26, 2011 @ 12-2 PM
The Hands-on Tamer work shop will demonstrate effective restraints for ungulates using a drop-chute tamer.  This workshop will take place at the San Diego Zoo’s shipping pens on Zoo Day.  Limited to 20 people. This two hour workshop will give participates an overview of the working components of the drop-floor-chute system used at the San Diego Zoo both with and without live animals. Each person will be able to work the Tamer and get to know how to use it for different species by making the needed adjustments. This class will be limited to 20 people to ensure that each person has time to work the system. Live animal work will depend on availability of animals at the time of the workshop.

Hoof Stock Hooftrim August 26, 2011 @ 3-5 PM
This two hour workshop will provide an overview of hoof growth and anatomy through the use of video and specimen models and will cover the basics of hoof care and trimming.  Also covered will be an introduction of tool use and safety.  This is a hands-on workshop that will provide the opportunity to work with and trim cow cadaver feet with available instruction.  All tools will be provided.  A variety of comparison species cadaver feet will also be available for review.

Koala Husbandry Workshop at the zoo August 26 @ 12-4 PM
This is the second part of a two part workshop that will take place on zoo grounds.


Polar Bear Husbandry Workshop August 27, 2011 @ 2-6 PM & August 28 @ 1:30-5:30 PM

Red Panda Husbandry Workshop August 27, 2011 @ 2-6 PM
This workshop is intended for keepers interested in receiving the latest information on red panda husbandry and will cover such topics as housing, diets, breeding, enrichment, and training.

Browse Care & Use August 27, 2011 @ 4-6 PM
Most zoo animals receive some kind of foliage for either diet or enrichment.  Learn the basics of maintaining, caring for and proper cutting of browse at your facility.

Hoof Stock Neonates August 27, 2011 @ 4-6 PM
The hoof stock neonatal care workshop is designed to give all the basics of neonatal care for those working with hoof stock neonates.  The workshop will include understanding gastric capacity, formula selection, calculation, and scheduling, and nipple selection.

Professional Growth: Switch Workshop August 27, 2011 @ 2-4 PM
Change is hard.  It is said that keepers hate change more than their animals do.  Change affects how we think, emote, and react.  Best-selling Author Chip Heath (Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard) will take a look at how we can adapt to changes and even incorporate strategies for change when delivering our conservation message to the public.

Communication: Media Training August 27, 2011 @ 4-8 PM
Whether giving an animal presentation on zoo grounds or in front of a live camera in a studio, this workshop will cover some of the do’s and don’t’s of public interaction.  Topics covered will include: staying focused on your animal during your talk, key messages to deliver, what you want the public to walk away with, presentation tips, and what to say when things don’t go as planned.  This workshop is a must for anyone who either gives public presentations and/or has the opportunity to present their animals on the News.

Primate Nutrition August 27, 2011 @ 2-4 PM
The basics of primate nutrition are covered in this workshop, including but not limited to: nutritional requirements, digestive tracts, diet selection, roots, fruits, and leafy greens , browse, body condition scoring, and stool quality.

Building upon your Enrichment Goals August 27, 2011 @ 2-4 PM
Attendees will learn how to develop enrichment devices to meet their behavior goals.  This workshop will encourage creativity to develop new enrichment design prototypes.

The goals for this workshop are to encourage behavioral goal setting and creativity when developing new enrichment devices.  The exercises will be able to be utilized at their own facilitiy to help improve their zoo-wide enrichment program.

Instructors: D. Neptune (Hogle Zoo), R. Shewokis (The Living Planet Aquarium)

Animal Welfare Symposium- August 27, 2011 @ 6-8 PM
This presentation will provide an introductory overview of the emerging concepts of animal welfare, review the objectives and action plan of the AZA Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) and offer take home information on how delegates can start their own institutional AWC’s.

In conjunction with this presentation, presenters will also provide some background on the value of keeper ratings and welfare assessments as well as give a general overview of the application of an innovative welfare monitoring tool used by animal care staff. This will then be followed by an interactive exercise component, applying the model of the welfare assessment tools discussed.


Professional Growth: Team Decision Making August 28, 2011 @ 1:30-3:30 PM
Decision making is an on-going process in the zoo world.  Working together as a team provides plenty of opportunities for team-based decision making.  This workshop will cover some of the philosophies behind effective decision-making, using Elephant management strategies as case studies.  Workshop leader Dr. David Fagan has been a consultant / clinician / researcher  to numerous zoos, private practice veterinarians, and private or off-exhibit animal collections. He has traveled, published and lectured extensively; has been staff consultant to the world famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park since 1974; and since 1981 has been the Executive Director of The Colyer Institute – a center for the study of oral disease and nutrition in exotic animals (see web site @ ). Dr. Fagan is an Associate member of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

Ungulate Nutrition August 28, 2011 @ 1:30-3:30 PM
The basics of hoof stock nutrition are covered in this workshop, including but not limited to: nutritional requirements, digestive tracts, diet selection, hay varieties, high versus low fiber feeds, browse, body condition scoring, and stool quality.

Venomous Reptile August 28, 2011 @ 1:30-5:30 PM. WE REGRET TO INFORM THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Training- It’s All Fun and Games August 28, 2011 @ 1:30-3:30 PM
This workshop will help trainers improve their operant conditioning techniques through the use of a variety of activity based training games.  Concepts include but are not limited to: communication, conditioning, shaping plan development, etc.

The goal of this workshop is to give keepers fun ways to improve their all around training skills.  They will learn a variety of exercises that will be fun to take back and try at their own facilities.
Instructors: D. Neptune (Utah’s Hogle Zoo) and D. Walz (The Living Planet Aquarium)

Pilates for Pandas! Developing an Animal Exercise Program. August 28, 2011 @ 3:30-5:30 PM

Note:  To provide the best quality experience for participants in this interactive workshop, space will be limited to 50 people.  This is a 2 hour workshop.

Wild animals burn a lot of energy just trying to survive.  Natural behaviors required for seeking food, shelter, mates, avoiding predation or dangerous confrontation all burn calories and require physical exertion.  Contrary to most zoo environments that provide regular access to the food buffet, wild animals have to work for their food and their labor is not always fruitful.  The act of survival keeps them physically fit.  Just as humans in developed countries need to consciously seek exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy, perhaps zoo animals could benefit from a fitness regimen as well.  Now this does not mean the pandas will be doing palates, of course!  But, perhaps a holistic look at our animals and their current activity budgets may present areas of opportunity to improve physical fitness.

In addition to a closely monitored zoo diets, body scores and weight assessments, behavioral management programs can help keep collection animals healthy and strong.  Training and enrichment goals designed to encourage physical activity through natural behavior foster fitness.  In this workshop we will look at some examples of physical fitness needs for zoo animals and develop programs to meet those needs.  Participants will be divided into discussion groups to develop a program suited to various hypothetical situations.  Each group will have time at the end to describe their program to the rest of the audience.

Instructor: V. Presley (Toronto Zoo)


Avian Egg Incubation Workshop. August 24 10:00 am – 3:00 pm & August 25, 2011 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm.
The Egg Incubation workshop consists of two full days of theory and practical learning. The workshop will be located at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park where participants will review the basics of development of both the embryo and its membranes, learn about factors affecting hatchability before and during incubation and discuss techniques of hatchery management including equipment selection and operation, egg weight loss management and hatchability analysis. The lab will focus on breaking out embryos at all stages of development (older embryos are not live) and will give hands -on practice with candling techniques, egg repair, hatching assistance and egg necropsy.