2017 Safety Summit

In late March, the ZAHP Fusion Center participated in the Safety Summit held at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Midyear meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are happy to share the following presentations and relevant documents with you:

  • DHS Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program (courtesy of Jeff Murray, Protective Security Advisor – Department of Homeland Security)
    • Attendees were given an introduction to the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program. Under this program Protective Security Advisors are able to assist facility owners and operators via Assist Visits and a subsequent Infrastructure Survey Tool (IST) security survey,  ultimately providing a detailed assessment of the security and resilience of a facility.  More information can be found at , but some key point from the introduction to this program are that it is:
      • Completely free
      • Voluntary and non-regulatory, i.e. you will not be reported to any regulatory agencies
      • Protected under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act, i.e. your data will not be shared
      • Available to facilities of all business models

      Each US state and territory has at least one protective security advisor that can answer any questions you may have and help you get started with the program. You can get in touch with yours by emailing [email protected].

  • Conducting Complex Animal Escape Drills and Pre-Planning Events (courtesy of Anne Knapp, Director of Animal Resources and Andrea Lewicki, Administrative Assistant – Zoo New England)
    • In this session, Zoo New England will share the process for planning a complex animal escape drill, and the lessons learned from that exercise. They will also share how they use the Incident Command System to help them organize their “Free Fun Friday” events.
  • Hazards Drill Planning and Reporting (Courtesy of Casey Coy, Vice President of Operations – Florida Aquarium; George Peterson, Director of Dive Programs – Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Nate Fague, Director of Safety and Security – Mystic Aquarium)
    • It’s challenging to find the time to train and exercise, but it is SO important. In this session, participants will be given tips on planning drills in your facility, some proven ways to ‘report out’ the outcomes, and some strategies for USING what you learned in the drills to improve your planning and training
  • Reputation Management Through Effective Crisis Communications (courtesy of Patty Peters, Vice President Community Relations – Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)
    • When a crisis situation occurs, time is of the essence and the need to communicate is immediate. That’s why organizations must have a crisis communication plan in place before a potentially damaging situation arises. But what does that mean? What communications elements should be included in your crisis plan? While there’s no such thing as a cookie cutter plan, this session will help identify the components your zoo or aquarium should consider to be prepared to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an emergency and the hours and days that follow. Because “by the time you hear the thunder, it’s too late to build the ark.”
  • Just Culture: A Different Approach to Safety and Accountability (courtesy of Hollie Colahan, Vice President for Animal Care  – Denver Zoo)
    • Working with dangerous animals requires a constant focus on safety. Regardless of our innovations in technology, exhibit design and staff training, accidents do happen. Because of the serious consequences of mistakes (potential or real), the traditional approach to accountability has been a progressive discipline system, accompanied by additional training or perhaps changes to procedures. However, we also know that increased reporting of incidents will help improve safety. How do we encourage people to report something when they know they could be fired for it? If the punishment is removed, how do hold people accountable?Just Culture is a system of workplace accountability that addresses these questions. With its origins in aviation and health care, it has proven success in other high stakes industries. After the concept was introduced at the Felid TAG Husbandry Course last year, Denver Zoo committed to embrace Just Culture across our institution and we believe this is a system that could make zoos and aquariums safer for our animals, staff and guests.

A special thank you to all of the contributors who agreed to share their resources and presentations!