Our second lightening speaker was Dr. Jeleen Brisco, Department of Agriculture. Her presentation was called: It Takes a Village to Save the Ark: Experiences in Government and Zoo Collaboration for All-Hazards Emergency Preparedness by Dr. Jeleen Briscoe. Dr. Jeleen Briscoe’s abstract for the presentation can be found below:
Zoos and aquariums provide the public up-close-and-personal opportunities to interface with the fascinating world of animals, promoting conservation awareness and family fun. But there is one person whose blood runs cold at the thought of zoos: the emergency responder who gets the call that a tiger has escaped, or the zoo is sitting helpless in the path of a hurricane, or a wildfire is about to hit the California Condor exhibit. Through innovative projects including tabletop exercises, online animated training modules, and the creation of best practice guidance documents using subject matter experts who have survived zoo emergencies, the US Department of Agriculture and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have collaborated on projects supporting all-hazards emergency preparedness at zoos. As funding streams diminish for governments and zoos, projects such as these become the model for all parties to accomplish mutually beneficial preparedness goals. This talk should be chosen because nothing gets people more razzed than vulnerable zoo animals-everyone has been to a zoo, but few have considered the human and public relations costs of zoo emergencies. We’re proud of the prolific success we’ve had with this innovative collaboration and can’t wait to share. And I promise there will be pics of cool animals!
Dr. Briscoe reminded us that when a hurricane makes landfall, or a natural disaster occurs, animals and zoo’s are in jeopardy, and zoo employee’s often stay on site to take care of the animals during the crisis. And, like most areas of government, many zoo’s have struggled with budget cuts. Brisco identified four ways to help government employees to learn how to partner with the private sector:
- Money – get people together to and pool resources for collaboration
- Framing – conversations involving government is often driven by a sense of importance and in a context of statutory compliance and authority
- Branding: agency partnerships gives a sense of authenticity to private sector companies partnering
- Connections: can be big picture, not impartial to any party, you can bring the right people into the room and get the right things done, often the glue that holds the project together
One compelling quote from Dr. Brisco was, “Government can empower others to empower themselves.”