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General Sessions

Tuesday, March 28

Breakfast with Exhibitors - 7:30 AM
General Session: Matching Methods to Goals – SSPs and SAFE - 8:00 AM

Join all for breakfast and visit with exhibiting product and service providers. Enjoy the morning session featuring AZA’s President and CEO, Dan Ashe, along with AZA’s Chair of the Board of Directors and the Director of Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, Adrienne Rowland. The day’s general session will focus on animal program reimagination, sustainability of collections, and conservation in the wild.

In 2019, AZA’s Board of Directors directed that:

  • The Animal Population Management Committee (then WCMC) focus its mission and vision around the sustainability of populations managed in human care;
  • The Wildlife Conservation Committee (then FCC) focus its mission and vision on expanding SAFE and conservation programs and culture, including outreach to SSPs with conservation programs, with the goal of bringing them into the SAFE program; and
  • The two committees develop an implementation plan to align programs with the mission and vision direction above.

Today, we celebrate that alignment. In August 2022, AZA began offering access to services from AZA’s Population Management and Reproductive Management Centers to SAFE programs that use ex situ population management as a key recovery strategy and by February 2023, only programs focused on sustainable populations in human care remained as SSP programs.

The panel will discuss how programmatic changes better empower AZA committees and their programs to achieve their respective missions. Speakers will describe key changes and connect those changes to specific programs. Join us as we discuss two key priorities for the AZA communities – thriving animal populations in their home and in our care. 

Moderator: Lisa New, President & CEO, Zoo Knoxville


  • Joe Barkowski, Vice President of Animal Conservation & Science, Tulsa Zoo
  • Hollie Colahan, Deputy Director, Birmingham Zoo
  • Dr. Lisa Faust, Senior Director of Population Ecology, Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Jessie Bushell, Director of Conservation, San Francisco Zoo and Gardens

Wednesday, March 29

Breakfast with Exhibitors - 7:30 AM
General Session: Combating the Illegal Pet Trade - 8:00 AM

Enjoy morning coffee, breakfast, and another chance to visit with exhibitors. Hear about the newly created Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network, a pilot program that provides new response protocol for the placement and care of confiscated wildlife. Learn about the exciting Not A Pet campaign, brought to you by AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and the International Fund for the Animal Welfare.

Providing Care for Confiscated Wildlife
Wildlife trafficking has increased dramatically over the past decade, and several U.S. and state government agencies are on the front lines addressing these illegal activities. Successful wildlife law enforcement often involves the seizure, confiscation and subsequent holding of a diverse array of wild animals and plants, which presents a unique set of challenges. Due to the increasing number of confiscations, and the complexities involved in caring for the live wildlife that are the victims of illegal trade, it is important to have an effective and coordinated system for ensuring the care and welfare of confiscated live wildlife. AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance is working with a diverse set of partners on the establishment of the Southern California Wildlife Confiscations Network, a pilot program that will provide a cooperative and coordinated response to the care and welfare of confiscated wildlife in the Southern California region, and eventually across the United States.

Reducing Demand for Exotic Pets
High global demand for exotic pets fuels the illegal capture and trade of millions of animals, many of which suffer and die in the process. The Not A Pet campaign is a new joint initiative by AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The campaign shines a spotlight on the illegal trade of live wildlife sold as pets in the United States while also highlighting the risk of zoonotic disease emergence, spillover, and spread caused by the legal and illegal live exotic pet trade. The initiative aims to connect with potential owners of exotic pets to help them understand the risks to animal and human health, and the specialized care require for these wild animals.


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