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Hot Topics

While AZA encourages submissions in a wide variety of topics, here are some Hot Topics that the membership are interested in hearing about:

 Animal Welfare and Management

  • Geriatric animal care, end of life criteria, culling, euthanasia as a population management tool
  • Program animal welfare in zoos and aquariums
  • Future of zoos and aquariums including: collections, sustainable feeding, animal rights
  • Acquisition of wild animals: politics, perceptions, rescuing vs culling
  • Animal shipments: quarantine/ preship testing, transactions, compatibility, species sustainability
  • Taxa welfare: marine [animal welfare, touch tanks, scientific diving], reptile, avian
  • Emerging welfare trends in zoos and aquariums, how are best practices in management and welfare assessed; animal rights vs animal welfare
  • Human/animal interactions, public feedings, challenges of operations of shows vs animal management
  • Welfare of pest animals in zoos and aquariums
  • Animal welfare and environment (noise pollution, light pollution, photoperiods, nighttime events, glass strikes) in zoos and aquariums
  • Mixed species exhibits in zoos and aquariums
  • Carcass feeding and live feeding in zoos and aquariums: pros and cons

 Aquarium Affairs

  • Life Support Systems and Technology; especially "greening" of LSS and new innovations
  • Collection Sustainability
  • SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction - Sharks
  • Dive Ops; innovative immersive programs, managing volunteers within your dive program, field operations and exploration; technology in public diving presentations
  • Connecting and Building Bridges; partnerships and/or conservation work with other organizations and entities
  • Aquatic Invasive Species
  • Techniques in Water Quality; especially those that are "new" and/or "green"
  • Advocacy
  • Dive Safety

 Business Operations

  • Best practices for paid internship programs
  • Hot trends in revenue-generating special events
  • Retail trends (products, displays, shrinkage prevention, etc.)
  • Green practices/sustainability
  • Reducing turn-over with seasonal staff. Best practices when hiring and training large numbers of seasonal staff (focus on retention-best ways to give them a great experience so they stay)
  • Guest and workplace diversity
  • How to measure (and improve) guest satisfaction
  • Safety, security and the guest experience/facility emergency preparedness
  • Successful tactics for on-boarding (focus on acquisition-best ways to bring people on board)
  • Implementing low cost guest amenities that have a big impact
  • Use of technology that is specific to our organizations: memberships, admissions, apps for institutions, PCI compliance, retail food service, prep and install of an admissions system


  • Collaborative projects on native species between AZA institutions and their state game and fisheries departments
  • Long-term support of field projects
  • Species conservation mitigation strategies for climate change
  • Data mining and ZIMS:  How to do it right
  • Community-based conservation
  • Use of banked genetic resources
  • Genome banking in conservation
  • Captive recovery and reintroduction

 Development & Membership

  • Unorthodox Giving Methods (i.e. crowdfunding)
  • How to Solicit and Steward Millennials
  • Keeping Members Engaged (throughout their membership)
  • Internal Philanthropy – how to fundraise inside your organization
  • Staffing Structures & Interdepartmental Interaction
  • Recovering Lapsed Members
  • Major Gifts Operations – How shops structure their teams and project dollars


  • Conservation messaging: Strategies for effective communication
  • Strategic Planning
  • Effective advocacy strategies: Combining government affairs and education know-how
  • Research & Evaluation - Visitor Studies/Measuring our impact and application of results
  • Trends in education: New ideas and lessons learned
  • Opportunities and Challenges for Small Zoos Supporting Conservation Education In-Situ
  • Working smarter in a tough economy: Effective in-house program efforts in marketing, design,  implementation and revenue generation
  • Professional development: Continuing to grow and learn on a tight budget
  • Connecting children with nature: Increasing environmental literacy, facilitating nature-based play
  • Collaboration and partnerships among cultural attractions such as zoos, aquariums, museums, and botanical gardens

 Public Relations & Marketing

  • Case studies representing cross-disciplinary campaigns and/or success (could include a mix of social media, crisis communication, media relations or more).
  • Multimedia Storytelling – Utilizing Blogger, Online Platforms or Social Media to tell stories in today’s Visually-Driven World
  • Utilizing social media to build relationships with news sources and journalists
  • Building conservation advocates and supporters through public relations and new media.
  • Building a millennial strategy of authentic storytellers – what are the Opportunities and Challenges
  • Measuring success of social media campaigns or platforms,
  • Social Media Advertising - How are people using budget dollars to boost posts, or advertise on Facebook and Twitter?
  • Docu-series and Films – How to evaluate potential opportunities and what professionals should anticipate by providing access.
  • Crisis Communications Management – how communicators are adapting and changing their planning, strategies and responses for today’s instant news marketplace.
  • Strategies for leveraging conservation and science programs and key scientific papers for inclusion in traditional to social media outlets and platforms.
  • Institutional rights related to social media – when do copyright/trademark laws come into play related to fee-based apps, image sharing and selling, name recognitions and content?

 Volunteer and Docent Management

  • Millennials
  • Diversity
  • Interns
  • Training Staff to work with Volunteers
  • Corporate Volunteers
  • Volunteers as Social Advocates (SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction)
  • Volunteer Evaluation
  • Aging Volunteers
  • Integrating Volunteers into your Organizational Culture



  • Integration of smart phone technology into exhibit experiences
  • Antiquated caging standards that differ by state

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