Annual Conferences

Year Location Host
2005 Montgomery Alabama Montgomery Zoo
2006 San Diego, California Zoological Society of San Diego
2007 Tampa, Florida Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
2008 Omaha, Nebraska Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
2009 Wichita, Kansas Tanganyika Wildlife Park
2010 Lafayette, Louisiana Zoo of Acadiana
2011 Arlington, Texas  
2012 Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo
2013 Phoenix, Arizona

Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium/
Bearizona Wildlife Park

2014 Pensacola Beach, Florida Gulf Breeze Zoo
2015 Las Vegas, Nevada  


Mid-Year Meetings

Year Location Host
2016 Providence, Rhode Island Southwick's Zoo


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12th Annual ZAA Conference


February 2017


Information coming soon



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ZAA Mid-Year Conference


August 15-17, 2016

Sheraton Providence Airport Hotel
Providence, Rhode Island

Hosted by

Southwick's Zoo


Eventbrite - ZAA Mid-Year Conference


Conference Schedule

Mid-Year Conference Schedule



Registration Information

Registration Information


Eventbrite - ZAA Mid-Year Conference


Full registration $225

Full registration includes:

  • all workshop registrations
  • conference packet
  • all breakfasts (2)
  • all coffee breaks (4)
  • Welcome Reception with 2 drink tickets
  • daily lunches
  • Zoo Day, including round trip trainsportation from hotel to Southwick's Zoo, admission to Southwick's Zoo, all Zoo Day activities - lunch, coctail reception, dinner


Individual day registration is also available:

Monday, August 15 - $75
(includes workshops, 2 coffee breaks, boxed lunch, Welcome Reception, 2 drink tickets for reception)

Tuesday, August 16 - $75
(includes workshops, breakfast, 2 coffee breaks, lunch)

Wednesday, August 17 - $99
(includes workshops, breakfast, roundtrip from hotel to Southwick's Zoo, admission to Southwick's Zoo, all Zoo Day activities - lunch, cocktail reception and dinner)


Conference Hotel

Sheraton Providence Airport Hotel

1850 Post Road
Warwick, Rhode Island

(401) 738-4000

Reservation Information

Conference room rate is $109.00 plus tax each night. 

To reserve a room:

  • call Starwood Reservations at (888) 627-7182 or (401) 738-4000.  Group code: Zoo and Aquarium 2016 Conference
  • Or make your reservations online.

You must make your reservation on or before July 29, 2016 to receive the discounted rate.  Subject to availability.



Complimentary parking

Complimentary 24 hour shuttle to and from the airport



Airport Transportation

Airport Transportation


Sheraton Providence Hotel offers complimentary airport shuttle 24 hours/day.

Call the hotel at (401) 738-4000 when you arrive at the airport to schedule the shuttle.  Schedule your return to the airport at the hotel front desk.



- Workshop - Zoo Animal Training with Barbara Heidenreich

Workshop - Zoo Animal Training with Barbara Heidenreich


Zoo Animal Training: Everyday Essentials and Exploring the New Frontiers


By Barbara Heidenreich
Animal Training and Behavior Consultant
Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training
Austin, TX, USA
Science based training technology has improved animal welfare, enhanced guest experience, simplified husbandry procedures, addressed behavior problems, provided enriching opportunities, facilitated ground breaking research and contributed to conservation success.  It is no surprise that zoos around the world are seeing the benefits of developing staff members’ practical application skills as well as their understanding of the learning theory behind animal training.  The development of skilled trainers has led to innovations in species being trained, behaviors attained and technology being developed. This workshop will explore the basic foundations of zoo animal training for facilities looking to get started, as well as exciting advancements and opportunities for established training programs.  Learn how this rapidly developing scientifically based aspect of animal care is impacting the zoological profession for the better.

Presenter Bio:
In 1982 Barbara Heidenreich secured her first job working with animals in a veterinary hospital. After exploring different animal related jobs and receiving her degree in Zoology from the University of California at Davis in 1990, Barbara started her career as an animal trainer in a zoological park. She has been a professional trainer ever since.
Barbara provides consulting services to zoos, nature centers, universities and other animal facilities. She lectures regularly to the veterinary community and is an adjunct clinical instructor at Texas A & M University, Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. Barbara is a former president of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators and served on the Board of Directors from 1997-2009.  She volunteers her expertise to support conservation projects, The Kakapo Recovery Program and the Bird Endowment. In her career she has trained animals, trained staff, lectured and/or presented shows at over 50 facilities around the world.
Barbara has been a featured speaker on animal training in over twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara teaches learning theory as described by the science of behavior analysis. She is also passionate about teaching excellent animal training practical application skills. Barbara is thrilled to have had the opportunity to train thousands of animals, from rats to rhinos. This hands-on practice with so many different individual animals has been invaluable to helping her provide caregivers the tools they need to solve behavior problems and have a great relationship with the animals in their lives based on trust. Her goal is to leave behind a legacy of kindness to animals by sharing her expertise.
For her complete bio please visit

- Workshop - Primate Husbandry

Workshop - Primate Husbandry


Swing in, embrace your inner simian and enhance your knowledge for better care of your primates with The Primate Husbandry Workshop.   This workshop will cover all the major groups including prosimians, new and old world primates, and the lesser and great apes.  Topics will include:

  • natural history
  • captive husbandry
  • mixed species exhibits
  • issues of note for importations
  • veterinary preventative programs/medical concerns
  • training/enrichment


Ken Kaemmerer, Curator of Mammals, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Karen Vacco, Assistant Curator of Mammals, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
John Gramieri, General Curator, Austin Zoo
Dr. Peter Brewer, Director, Southwick's Zoo


- Workshop - Conservation Education & Ambassador Animals

Workshop - Conservation Education & Animal Ambassadors

Booking Field Trips and Outreach Programs:  Tips and Tricks to Keep You Organized

By Erinn Stiles

During this workshop, we will delve into the process of organizing field trips and outreach programs including initial contact, booking, confirmation, reminder, and welcome documents. The process of organizing field trips and outreach programs is a difficult and time-consuming one, and this workshop will give you the tools to help teachers navigate the system and leave them feeling like yours was the easiest field trip or outreach they ever booked.

Choosing Appropriate Animal Ambassadors: The Good, the bad and the Ugly

By Jackie Navarro

It doesn’t have to be trial by fire. Learn from other facilities successes and failures. There are many resources out there to glean information from. Careful consideration must be given to permit restrictions, housing requirements, experience level of staff, plan B (what if things don’t work out?) etc. before obtaining any potential Animal Ambassador for your programs. It is our ethical obligation to do so. Live Animal Ambassadors allow us to more effectively deliver conservation and preservation messages. They are known to engage and inspire better stewardship practices from younger generations.


Develop Your Programs and Messages

By Derek Small

“Perception is 9/10 th of reality” – so make your reality or somebody else might for you.  How are you, your animals, your programs and your organization perceived by your community, audiences, customers and the public at large? Do you have clear and concise messaging? Is there consistency and integrity in your programming?

Taking the time and effort to identify your core messages, give structure and  framework to your classes and presentations… and train presenters and staff to ensure consistency and integrity of program delivery, is critical to the success of aspiring ZAA professional educators!


Bringing it to the People" Fostering Respect for Wildlife Through Live Animal Interpretation

By David Kleven, Susan Kleven, and Betsey Brewer Bethel

There are many excellent passive methods for fostering respect for wildlife, but nothing brings people closer to wildlife than zoos and aquariums.  Live animal presentations provide an opportunity to actively engage your audience. Join us for an exploration of best practices for developing meaningful audience engagement.


Ladies & Gentleman, Please Welcome...

Moderated by Betsey Brewer Bethel, David Kleven, and Susan Kleven

Join us for a fun and interactive exercise to fine tune your interpretive programs. This will be an opportunity to take the topics discussed in the previous education workshops and put them into practice.


- Workshop - Media & Communications

Workshop - Media & Communications

Developing a Media Plan

During this session, guests will learn successful steps to develop a solid media plan. Items discussed will include creating a media packet, relationship building, writing a press release, event and activity ideas to encourage positive media coverage, and how to present the organization during a media event. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.

Crisis Communications

During this session, guests will learn the necessary steps to prepare for a crisis situation in the media and the actions to take throughout the process. Items discussed will include developing a crisis communications plan, media on site, do’s and don’ts during an emergency media situation, and what types of events warrant moving into your crisis communication plan. A question and answer period will follow the presentation.



Jamie Szoszorek, Director of Marketing & PR, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Tracy Gray, Manager of Media & Public Relations, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


- Workshop - ZIMS Training

Workshop - ZIMS Training



ZIMS: Inventory, Husbandry, Medical Records - Why Bother?

Targeted Audience - Prospective ISIS members, those getting started with digital records management.

  • Preserves organization’s accumulated animal knowledge
  • Provides quick access to information – locally and globally
  • Strengthens husbandry, medical, breeding, conservation results
  • Improves staff efficiency and productivity; institutional planning; collection management initiatives
  • Reduces operating costs

Getting the Most Out of What is New in ZIMS!

Targeted Audience - Current ISIS members, those who have ZIMS logins and existing experience with standardized records management.

  • Advance topics on inventory, husbandry, medical management
  • Species holdings, specimen reports, consolidated inventory, animals available and wanted, weight comparisons, pedigree explorer, phys norms, anesthesia summaries, enclosure treatments, and more.
  • Enrichment management and calendaring to increase team collaboration
  • Keeper Daily Reporting to replace paper processing and share the work load
  • Aquarium features, including: Aquarist Daily logging, Wild Acquisition and Enclosure Activity reporting
  • Batch functionality for simultaneous updating of Weight, Health Status, and Body Condition Score from a single screen
  • New tools! Visualizations with Animal and Institutional data charts.
  • Preview of Population Management Features coming into ZIMS soon!
  • Open user Q&A session.


ZAA has negotiated, due to high ZAA member interest, this free ZIMS Workshop along with an ISIS fee discount - 40% reduction in the ISIS initiation fee for all new members that sign up between August 15 - September 30, 2016.  


- Workshop - Dangerous Animal Emergency Response Training

Workshop - Dangerous Animal Emergency Response Training

Emergency Response for Dangerous Animals

The development and procedures for dangerous animal emergency response teams will be discussed with experiences from several zoos including with participants’ institutions.  Formation of shoot teams will be examined including choice of weapons for particular species, selection of team members, practice and qualifying, communication and judgement and options to lethal force.  Structure and response of emergency team members will be addressed including use of Incident Command System procedures and coordination with outside responding emergency authorities or agencies.



Ken Kaemmerer, Curator of Mammals, Pittsburgh Zoo
John Gramieri, General Curator, Austin Zoo
John Lubawski, Rangemaster, Pittsburgh Police Bureau Traning Academy
Lex Salisbury, Owner, Safari Wilderness


Southwick's Zoo Tour

Southwick's Zoo Tour

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Time Activity Location
11:00 am Buses depart hotel for Southwick's Zoo Hotel lobby
12:00 pm-1:00pm Arrive & Lunch at Southwick's Zoo Corporate Events Pavillion
1:00pm-4:30pm Explore zoo (details coming soon)  
4:30pm Appetizers and cocktails Corporate Events Pavillion
5:30pm Dinner  
7:00pm Buses depart for Sheraton Providence Hotel  


Thank you to our Sponsors

Mid-Year Conference Sponsors










Animal Care Software

Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo

International Animal Exchange

International Species Information System - Species 360


Zoos & Aquariums near Providence, Rhode Island


Explore Providence, Rhode Island


Sponsor Opportunities

Sponsor Opportunities


Supporter $500

Sponsor a break


Patron $1,500

Sponsor choice of Welcome Reception, Conference Passport, Breakfast (Tuesday or Wednesday)


Partner $2,500

Sponsor choice of Lunch (Monday or Tuesday), Conference Swag


Click here for sponsor payments. 


Benefits include: mention in the conference passport, ZAA Newsletter and Journal and ZAA Facebook page, name/logo displayed during sponsored event/activity, and more!

For more information on sponsorship and benefits, contact Matt at 316-644-9273 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.