Once a year, usually in January, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) directors, CEOs, and presidents get together for a policy conference to learn about issues important to our profession. This year, the two-day meeting was hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, and followed by a one-day meeting of the AZA Board of Directors on which I currently serve. We heard from several guest speakers covering topics as wide-ranging as international animal welfare, national wildlife partnerships, and how to strengthen our organizations through diversity.
Several sessions covered contemporary conservation topics. One that I thoroughly enjoyed was about an action plan to recover the declining populations of Pacific bluefin tuna. This multifaceted program is tracking tuna on both sides of the Pacific Ocean and conducting in-aquarium research on tuna physiology and reproduction, along with looking at the pressures brought on by human consumption of tuna. A big part of the program includes diplomacy and regulatory discussions with several countries. It is a template program for how so many conservation projects will have to be managed for success, where knowledge from the field is combined with knowledge and techniques developed in zoos and aquariums, and enacted and managed by governments and nongovernmental organizations to protect wildlife.
Your Zoo learns new things for wildlife all the time. The famous flutist James Galway said his father told him that a job was something you do until you find the work you are meant to do. Galway went on to say he had never had a job in his life. The women and men at the Los Angeles Zoo are committed to their work and are so thankful for your support and appreciation. Let’s all keep working together to benefit wildlife and wild places.