General Session 6 Abstracts
OUTREACH THROUGH COLLABORATION
Oregon Health & Science University
Caring for captive animals is challenging on many levels. One of the most challenging aspects is the development of programs that allow us to engage with the public on issues that are of concern to them. Ultimately, the goal of such public discourse is to promote support for our various missions, which differ from institution to institution. While the missions of zoos and biomedical research facilities may differ, common ground occurs at the level of animal care
Outreach that focuses on animal care is effective in addressing and alleviating public concern about animals that are housed in captivity. The Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC) and the Oregon Zoo put this concept to the test 5 years ago when they joined to develop an interactive presentation. The presenters explained that animal care specialists at both institutions are continually engaged in discovering better ways to house and care for animals in captivity. They also provided information about animal care, training, and highlighted the topic of environmental enrichment.
The collaborative presentation model provided an excellent opportunity for the audience to interact with animal care professionals and proved a very effective way to impart important information about animal care to the public. A variety of age levels were addressed, from middle school to adult.
Today’s talk will review how to design a collaborative presentation that will be compelling to your audience.
ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT AS A
TOOL FOR EDUCATING VISITORS ON A CONSERVATION MESSAGE
Woodland Park Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo has a long-standing affiliation with the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project as one of our Partners for Wildlife. We look for ways to educate our guests on ways to be “Bear Smart” through our keeper/guest interactions and education programs. As part of our partnership with GBOP, we co-host our popular summer event called “Bear Affair.” We use enrichment as a tool for teaching our guests about natural bear behavior and how to coexist safely with bears in their natural habitat. Bears are curious by nature and have a great capacity for learning so we strive to offer enrichment items that encourage our grizzlies to use all of their senses and provide physical and mental challenges. We present the bears with an array of stimuli to simulate a non-bear safe campsite including coolers, tents, and bear-resistant trash cans and food containers and a backyard setting including a table, chairs, and grills. The bears are challenged to find new ways to acquire tasty food items as they might at a typical campsite or backyard barbecue. We always make an effort to add new items each year to keep things interesting for the bears. While the bears are enriched, our guests learn about bear behavior by watching our grizzlies work their way through each item, trying different techniques until they succeed or move on. Both enrichment events are interpreted for our guests as they happen to help them understand bear behavior and potential impacts of their actions on bears.