The EAZA conference, held this year in the Tyrolean town of Innsbruck, is the annual meeting for the 345 zoos and aquariums accredited by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. Not all the zoos were represented, but those that were sent over 600 participants over the course of the four days.
The best part of the conference was the networking, though getting through the sheer numbers was impossible and when everyone congregated for coffee I found myself surreptitiously trying to peer at people’s name labels on lanyards slung way too low somewhere below the waist!
Trying to ascertain whether tigers were part of their collection without looking too disappointed when they said they were from an aquarium/bird reserve/small mammal/native species collection (!) was a skill I soon perfected, but it’s hard to stay focused when you actually want to just say ‘sorry I only want to talk tigers!”.
Nevertheless, I talked plenty about the current conditions for wild tigers and opportunities for funding projects in Sumatra and through ALTA in Russia in 2013. New connections were made and potential new fundraising campaigns discussed.
This conference is an opportunity for all the 41 TAGs (Taxonomic Advisory Groups) and breeding programmes (EEPs and ESBs) to discuss collection planning and husbandry guidelines and there are meetings for all the different species. Luckily I only had to attend the Felid Tag and the Tiger EEP meetings, where I presented an update on 21CT & ALTA, our successful collaborations with zoos and about our wonderful public support.
There was plenty to update – from Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation joining the 21st Century Tiger team to the new website with zoo member area, and plans for the future. A successful conference!