WAZA reports success of its 74th Annual Conference in Buenos Aires

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, recently held its 74th Annual Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is pleased to announce that its 74th Annual Conference was a success, with almost 200 attendees from 34 countries around the world gathering in Buenos Aires for the event. It would also like to thank the conference hosts, Fundación Temaikèn.

The four-and-a-half day event opened with a welcome address by Rabbi Sergio Bergman, Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina. Following this, a keynote address on population growth and conservation was delivered by Dr Mark Barone of the Population Council, which explored how zoos and aquariums can help address the issue.

Educational sessions

Several educational sessions took place over the course of the conference. A panel on the WAZA/IUCN Global Species Plan looked at how zoos and aquariums can work more closely with the IUCN and the role of IUCN Red List Assessment centres.

On Monday, Kris Vehrs, Executive Director of AZA, held a session to discuss the WAZA 2023 Animal Welfare Goal which dictates that by the end of 2023, all members must implement a WAZA-approved animal welfare evaluation.

WAZA conference 2019

During Wednesday’s Future of WAZA session, Theo Pagel, Cologne Zoo, led a discussion on the results of the recent WAZA membership survey and the future goals of the organisation.

Other topics covered throughout the event were inclusivity and diversity, crisis communications, animal welfare policies set by the tourism industry, species conservation and sustainability as well as rethinking how the zoo and aquarium community can engage with detractors.

Awards and a zoo visit

Several awards were also presented during the conference. Zoo Zürich was awarded the WAZA Conservation Award and Taronga Zoo was awarded the WAZA Environmental Sustainability Award.

Vehrs was honoured with the Heini Hediger award, which is WAZA’s highest award for professional excellence. This was given in recognition of her forty years of leadership in the global zoo and aquarium community.

In addition to this, Lee Ehmke was recognised for his commitment and his decade of service on the WAZA Council.

WAZA conference 2019

On Tuesday, delegates enjoyed a full day at Temaikèn. This included talks and a keynote by Dr Claudio Campagna, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour and an environmental activity using recycled plastic from the zoo.

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place on the final day of the conference, where the elected Council members were ratified. The AGM also saw the passing of the new Spanish bylaws and WAZA thanks  Vehrs, Pagel and Myfanwy Griffith who worked extensively on these.

Two new seats from Region Three were added to the council. Karen Fifield from Wellington Zoo, and Maria Clara Dominguez from Cali Zoo, will join the WAZA Council, representing Region Three. Fifield will take over as Chair of the now renamed Ethics and Animal Welfare Committee, while James Cretney will now Chair the Finance Committee.

Due to the new Spanish Bylaws, a vote needed to be held to determine which four associations would sit on the Council. After the ballot, it was announced that the four associations which have a voting seat on Council are: The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), The Latin American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (ALPZA) and The Zoo and Aquarium Association – Australasia (ZAA).

Members also passed Resolution 74.2 – 2023 WAZA goal on Animal Welfare evaluation processes, as well as Resolution 74.3 supporting the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s global call for species conservation action.

Pagel presented outgoing WAZA President Jenny Gray with a medal to thank her for her service before the presidency was handed over to him. WAZA thanks Gray for her leadership and vision, and welcomes Pagel to his new role.

The 75th WAZA Annual Conference will be held from 11 – 15 October, in conjunction with the International Zoo Educators Association (IZE). It will be hosted by the San Diego Zoo.