At the beginning of September, several Los Angeles Zoo and GLAZA staff went to New Orleans for the annual conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This was my first AZA conference, and I was inspired not only by the extraordinary collaboration among zoos nationally and internationally on Species Survival Plans and the Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program, but also by the warm welcome that colleagues from around the world gave us. The L.A. Zoo figures prominently among the world's zoological institutions, and we were all proud to see our Chief Executive Officer and Zoo Director, Denise Verret, installed as a member of the AZA board. She is clearly as beloved among her peers as she is here at home.
Our conservation partnerships with other zoos and field programs manifest daily at the L.A. Zoo. At the GLAZA board of trustees meeting in September, we were deeply moved by a presentation from Animal Keeper Roxane Losey, who went to South Africa on an Ornato Advanced Field Study grant last year to train horses for anti-poaching units responsible for protecting rhinos and many other species that share their habitat. In training local rangers to ride and care for the horses, Roxane connected with an entire village, particularly a man previously ostracized and disrespected by his neighbors who now has a new lease on life as equestrian groom. Roxane's video (below) included a heartfelt thank you from this man who is now a leader in his community, with children flocking to see him work with the horses.
Other fieldwork continues this year, with Zoo staff participating in projects in Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Cameroon. Animal keepers also organized fundraisers for our colleagues saving rhinos and giraffes in Africa. Closer to home, you can connect with local wild birds at our autumn bird walk and commune with ancient plants as rare as many animals in our Zoo during the fall garden tour. And soon you will be able to enjoy L.A. Zoo Lights, our winter holiday celebration. There is so much to do at the Zoo that connects Los Angeles to the world. Thank you for joining us!