SAAMBR hosts successful PAAZA conference

  • June 15, 2015 | Judy Mann, conservation strategist

In May this year SAAMBR hosted the annual conference of the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) at the Salt Rock Hotel in KwaZulu-Natal.

More than 120 delegates participated in the conference, 43 full-time and about 35 day delegates, making it one of the largest such events ever hosted by PAAZA.

Delegates represented African zoos and aquaria in Uganda, Egypt and Mauritius, as well as many local South African facilities, while international delegates came from as far afield as the United States and Indonesia.

Keynote speakers set the tone for the conference: Lawrence Munro of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Project Rhino spoke passionately about the challenges of the rhino poaching crisis in KwaZulu-Natal, and Tara Turkington, CEO of Flow Communications, addressed delegates on the topic of social media in zoos and aquaria.

A special session on legislation was hosted and attended by representatives of a number of government and provincial conservation agencies. This session was well attended and provided delegates with essential information.

PAAZA delegates at the SAAMBR conference

Collectively, 35 presentations were given on topics ranging from health and safety to international trends in zoo education, animal husbandry and management challenges. The presentations were, without exception, well presented and interesting. SAAMBR staff members presented on 14 topics and the association can be justifiably proud of the quality of their presentations.

The social programme was varied and included a visit to uShaka Sea World, which left delegates in awe of the scale and diversity of the facility and the work undertaken by SAAMBR.

The SAAMBR organising team deserves a big thank you for their hard work and commitment to ensure that the conference ran so smoothly.

The most common sentiment expressed by delegates was, "You have a wonderful team of staff at SAAMBR". Indeed, the conference was an occasion to be proud of SAAMBR, its achievements and its very special people.

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