Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums community celebrates excellence in its ranks

Every year at the close of its annual conference, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) celebrates the achievements of its members with the announcement of the winners of its awards of excellence.

The closing award ceremony not only puts an exclamation mark on the CAZA conference, but also on the outstanding work of its members in everything from animal husbandry, education, and conservation and habitat preservation; their contributions to long-term survival of at-risk populations, animal enrichment; as well the contributions of their staff and volunteers.

This year, CAZA’s most prestigious award – the Thomas R. Baines Award – went to African Lion Safari of Cambridge, Ontario, for its ground-breaking work in artificial reproductive techniques that resulted in the birth of Safari, the first giraffe born by means of artificial insemination in Canada and only the second ever in the world.

The birth of baby Safari represents a major success story not just for African Lion Safari, but also for the genetic health of both captive and wild animals. The zoo hopes its research will improve the genetic diversity of the global captive population and ultimately allow it to return some of this improved genetic vigor to the wild.

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo of Ottawa, Ontario was recognized with the Peter Karsten Conversation Award for its Green Initiatives program. The zoo’s efforts since launching this program three years ago mean that today it is a fully carbon neutral business, and its energy consumption has been reduced by over 50 percent.

Cathy Simon was this year’s recipient of the Zoo Professional Award. As the Visitor and Education Programs Coordinator with the Magnetic Hill Zoo of Moncton, New Brunswick, she not only develops the themes for summer programs offered to children, but the crafts they use as well. Ms. Simon’s work was instrumental in the zoo’s winning CAZA’s Eleanor Oakes Award in 2011 and again in 2013.

CAZA’s Animal Enrichment Award went to the Zoo de Granby of Granby, Quebec, for finding innovative ways to sharpen the senses of its animals through visual, olfactory, auditory, tactual and gustatory stimulation. Their program has given the zoo’s animals greater control over their environment, the opportunity to make choices, enjoy new experiences, and ultimately enrich their lives.

The Zoo sauvage de St-Félicien of St-Félicien, Quebec exemplifies CAZA members’ commitment to sound safety systems and receive this year’s Oakes Award. The zoo’s innovative design of a habitat for Siberian tigers provides the greatest possible safety for both animals and the visitors and staff that interact with them.

This year’s Colonel D.G. Dailley Award was shared by the Zoo de Granby of Granby, Quebec and Zoo Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, for their concerted efforts to recover the Spiny Softshell Turtle in Quebec’s Lake Champlain and tributaries.

Founding members of a recovery team created in 1997, the Zoo de Granby and Zoo Ecomuseum have been key participants throughout. Despite their initial protective and translocation efforts, hatching success continued to be a low 28 percent. However, after a modest test launch in 2009 of two artificial incubation nests, they have since released a total of 476 hatchlings, and now boast a hatching success rate of 81 percent. Their work exemplifies the kind of collaboration among accredited zoos and aquariums in Canada and elsewhere that has resulted is some of the most significant conservation breakthroughs of the last 20 years.

SOURCE Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)

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