Zoo Master Plans
During the 1990’s, Dr. Ron Tilson of the Minnesota Zoo worked with the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG; hosted by the Minnesota Zoo) to design master plans for the national zoos of Thailand, and later Vietnam. The main objectives were to make recommendations for improving the zoos to meet international standards and to assess the administration, management and function of regional zoo associations. The essence of this assignment was to determine how existing zoo systems could become nationally and internationally recognized for their conservation and education programs for endangered wildlife.
During working visits to zoos, the CBSG team conducted intensive evaluations of animal exhibits and collection plans, data analyses, discussions with zoo staff, and on-site training workshops. They used this information to design master plans, with new designs for zoo layouts and facilities, and new protocols for animal management. The directions and priorities set forth in these master plans were intended not only to help Asian zoos become state-of-the-art, but also to assist them in making immediate and long-range decisions within the context of a comprehensive strategic conservation plan for endangered species of their country.Read more
In Thailand we began the process by meeting with staff from all five zoos in planning sessions that covered zoo concept design, program priorities and exhibit critique. Integration of Thai zoo architects occurred at this time. Groundwork for preparing collection plans at each zoo was also begun. We then conducted four workshops with staff from all five zoos emphasizing: 1) animal health programs, policies, buildings, and equipment; 2) collection plans and exhibit designs; 3) evaluations for animal programs; and 4) and review of the botanical garden plan. Groundwork for developing zoo master plans was begun.
We moved on to focus on training staff in the use of ARKS, or the Animal Record Keeping System. Other workshops focused on establishing individual animal identities and exhibit or holding locations at each zoo and expanding upon zoo collection plans. Zoo concept designs were intensively reviewed. A major focus was the development of collection plans, exhibit designs, and management protocols and policies for birds. Schematics for the construction of animal hospitals were completed. Another focus was to provide training in veterinary procedures and to introduce zoo staff to SPARKS, or Single Population Analysis and Record Keeping System.
Towards completion of the process we began preparing Zoological Park Organization (ZPO) staff for a workshop to initiate an analysis of origin of their Indochinese tigers for inclusion in the Indochinese Tiger Regional Studbook, and to evaluate the role that the ZPO's captive tiger program, in conjunction with neighboring range countries of Malaysia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Myanmar, will have in preserving genetic diversity and possibly for support of wild populations. This included recommending tiger management procedures and policies for maintaining tigers in captivity, as well as animal health procedures for medical treatment and health maintenance. The process is explained below in the Tiger master planning section.
Saigon Zoo Master Plan for Conservation
Tiger Master Planning in Asia
The second stage involved providing hands-on training sessions at each zoo focusing on proper animal health procedures for medical treatment, immobilizations, immunizations, evaluations, health maintenance and diets, and the use of ARKS record-keeping software program.
This was culminated with a master plan meeting where institution-by-institution breeding recommendations were drafted, translated into range country language, and distributed to participating zoos. At the same time, biological materials (usually sperm, blood, and tissue) were collected and cryopreserved as part of the IUCN/SSC CBSG Tiger Genome Resource Banking Action Plan.Indonesia’s Tiger Master Plan – A Case Study
Indonesia’s Tiger Master Plan – A Case Study
In the early 1990’s, an international team of six zoo tiger biologists from Australia, Europe and the United States set out on a series of zoo tours, beginning in Java, Indonesia. The team visited ten zoos in Java and Sumatra and provided hands-on training for 140 Indonesian zoo staff that focused on proper animal health procedures for tiger medical treatment, immobilizations, immunizations, evaluations, and health maintenance. Physical examinations of 50 of the 61 zoo tigers were comprehensive: collection of blood and tissue biopsies; permanent tattooing of each animal with a temporary or permanent studbook number; and placement of a transponder as a backup identification system. A blood serum bank was started for disease screening of wild-caught tigers, among other uses, with banked serum from 54 tigers. A molecular DNA library was initiated for subspecies discrimination with skin biopsies and/or hair samples banked from 52 tigers, and a Genome Resource Bank was started with semen collected from 14 male tigers.
Five years and five trips to Indonesia later, the Indonesian captive management program came of age. It was managed by two co-coordinators, a management committee and a trained, competent studbook keeper; an accurate studbook for population management was established; all their captive tigers were recorded in the International Tiger Studbook; most every tiger had been physically examined and identified with tattoos and transponders; over 150 Indonesian zoo staff were exposed to husbandry, veterinary and reproductive procedures; a fledgling genome resource bank was in place; a rescue center for problem tigers was constructed; needed veterinary equipment had been provided to every zoo; and even a master plan was in place for the cooperative management of Sumatran tigers in Indonesia.
Equally importantly, the events generated extensive public relations and media coverage within Indonesia. Three national television channels filmed our work, which was viewed by approximately 125 million Indonesians; seven national and local newspapers carried the story; and the project was included in an international documentary film. Collectively over US $200,000 was donated to support the captive breeding efforts. In 1993 this program was awarded the AZA’s International Conservation Award.