OTTAWA (April 30, 2020) –
I have nothing to write to describe the COVID-19 pandemic we now find ourselves in that would not be a cliché. There simply is no playbook. I hope you and your loved ones are COVID free.
The importance of CAZA has probably never been greater. Standards to which we hold institutional members to give strength to why accreditation matters. The evidence of the connection between CAZA accredited facilities and their respective communities plays out each day, with donation drives across Canada, to the popularity of the virtual facilities tours, the societal interest in the zoos and aquariums is amazing. These themes have been at the heart of our messages to policymakers.
Our advocacy to the government has pushed that whatever government comes up with, Canada’s 30 zoos and aquariums need to be included. In addition, we have continued to make every effort to keep facilities up to date on federal government COVID-19 assistance programs. In our recent monthly survey, almost two-thirds of our institutional members are making use of government assistance. In mid-April, I was honoured to participate in the virtual panel discussion during the Canadian Museums Association virtual conference. Here several like-minded organizations formed a working alliance messaging the importance of our respective sectors to Canada and eventually to any re-opening strategy.
Notwithstanding the necessary health precautions, we are all taking, we also need to begin to discuss recovery strategies focused on measures that will create jobs and put life back into our society. In a letter to the federal minister for infrastructure and communities, the Hon. Catherine McKenna, we wrote Canada’s 30 accredited zoos and aquariums have many shovel ready projects that will contribute overall to our conservation efforts and create jobs. We drove this message home with a letter to the Official Opposition critic Luc Berthold and letters to Members of Parliament who have one of our facilities in their constituencies, we also wrote Canada’s Premiers. We are assembling the list of projects from our member’s institutions and will present that to the Minister in the days ahead.
We are now beginning to read and hear Premiers address their plans to ‘re-open’ their respective province. Each has a slightly different approach depending on their provincial circumstance. For CAZA institutional members there really is only one thing on their mind, ‘when can we open up’. In our April 28th news release, we said, “we have taken extra measures during this pandemic to ensure essential staff respect physical distancing, these measures can be adapted as we welcome the public.” Communicating how and what measures our facilities are taking to welcome back the public is an important message to relay to the government.
On Friday, May 1st I will convene a meeting of staff from institutional members to learn and develop an industry proactive message. Together, the message we need to get out to governments – Canada’s 30 accredited zoos and aquariums can safely welcome visitors as Canada re-opens.
We are in this together.