AZA 2014--First Thoughts on the First Day!

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First day of AZA 2014 is complete! It was, as usual, a whirlwind! But I thought I'd share some quick key thoughts that have stuck with me as the day comes to a close: sunset1. The link between conservation programming and communication to guests needs to be closed. Zoos and aquariums seem to still be straddling two worlds with limited connection between them. Is this an opportunity for designers to help bridge the gap?

2. Many powerful conservation campaigns exist, driven by and adopted by zoos and aquariums around the country. These programs are built for AZA institutions to easily implement them and garner support from visitors. But, the programs currently overlook a major sector of the AZA: commercial members. Is there a place for commercial members in conservation programs, other than simply donating of funds?

3. The animal rights activists are getting under our skin and we are starting to talk openly about the issues brought up by them, about how to better communicate the important work zoos and aquariums are doing / why certain decisions are being made / the fact that zoos and aquariums are THE experts, and also just about how pissed off we are...

I'll expound on one or more of these later, but meanwhile, what are some of the key take-aways you've gotten so far? Please share your thoughts below!

PS Check out my session "Enrichment as Guest Experience" tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 4pm in Durango 1-2 featuring superstar experts from Chicago Zoological Society, Georgia Aquarium, Abilene Zoo, and Columbus Zoo!