Wild Wildlife, Wild West, Wild Times

By Tiffany Law
Courtesy: Tiffany Law
Courtesy: Tiffany Law

The 9th annual Zoological Association of America conference was held here in Phoenix this past week. Being able to meet a vast collection of people with 30 or more years experience in the zoological industry. Some of them were keepers, some of them were educators and some of them were public and private park owners. The chance to ask these individuals questions related to my future paths in the industry was one of the highlights.

The first two days included field trips to Bearizona, a North American animal collection in Williams, Arizona, and the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium, my old workplace in Litchfield Park, Arizona. Being able to experience Bearizona for the first time was quite interesting and I highly recommend their open air raptor flight where falcons and owls whiz by inches over your head. WWZ&A is ever expanding and conference attendees got the chance to wander through the in process safari park area that will be opened in early 2014. It’s a great new area with a tram that will run through many of the areas.

The next two days were filled with some interesting presentations on a variety of topics. The most interesting was the education panel which brought up a new disorder in children called NDD or “Nature Deficit Disorder”. Children these days are being flooded with new technologies that keep them inside: computers, television, video games and more. In places like Arizona the choice between 100+ weather and air conditioned entertainment is quite the simple choice. Also schools are frequently shortening recess times, removing recess for higher grades altogether and taking physical education classes out of the curriculum. The result is new generations that are less interested in being outside and connecting with nature and as a result are more likely to be overweight and less healthy.

2013-11-12 14.11.10The whole week was a unique experience and next year I hope to attend at the 10th annual conference in Florida. Highlights of the conference included meeting a PhD from Pakistan who was here doing research for a university sponsored zoo she will be opening in her home country. And I’ve received the chance to start a research project that combines zoological aspects with global management to hopefully present at the conference next year. My advice? Don’t just focus on “job conferences”. Find one or more that focuses on the industry you want to enter or continue in and attend. The people you meet there may just happen to be looking to fill a position at their company.

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