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Enhancing Training for Response

In late February the ZAHP Fusion Center held a workshop on Enhancing Training for Response in the Exotic Animal Industry, hosted by Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA). The purpose of this inaugural workshop, attended by representatives from 16 zoological facilities as well as leadership from Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Zoological Association of America, and American Humane, was to begin conversations on how our industry can better train and organize to assist one another in disasters.

In an effort to leverage work already being done by leading organizations in companion animal search and rescue, ZAHP invited Dr. Dick Green, Senior Director of Disaster Response for the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Eric Thompson, Director of Disaster Response for Code 3 Associates and a certified technical Animal Search and Rescue (ASAR)/Heavy Extrication instructor to talk about what it takes to create and manage a credentialed ASAR team, and go over some of the biggest lessons they’ve learned as response professionals. These presentations provided a foundation for the group to discuss the potential development of an exotic animal strike team with characteristics similar to a credentialed ASAR team, but specialized to fulfill needs involving exotic animals.

The following day, Mr. Thompson provided instruction to OHDZA’s response team to examine how ASAR training may be adapted for the needs of an exotic response team; this included heavy extrication techniques that have already been proven useful in assisting zoos with large mammals.

ZAHP hopes to use conversations begun in this workshop and the following training to facilitate continued discussion between the response community and zoological professionals with regards to training and integration into formal response frameworks.

The ZAHP Fusion Center works alongside the ASPCA and Code 3 as members of the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC). NARSC works collaboratively and cooperatively to assist communities and their animals in their preparations for and response to incidents that place animals in crisis.