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  • Mid-Year 2024


Mid-Year registration includes coffee and lunch each day.
3 day Studbook Keeper Workshop is not included in Mid-Year registration.

Register for mid-year


Learn more about the 3 Day Workshop

Registration includes coffee and lunch each day.



Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) - 0.2 miles
Hotel is located adjacent to Terminal C at DFW International Airport.

Parking is free for hotel guests.
Attendees receive complimentary covered self-parking. 

Conference Hotel

Hyatt Regency DFW
2334 N International Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75261

hotel reservations

ZAA Conference rate: $169/night.  Includes complimentary wifi,  parking, and shuttle service to and from the airport.
Must book by January 29, 2024 to receive the conference rate.


2024 FULL schedule

Schedule At A Glance

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Board of Directors Meeting | Fort Worth Room

Studbook Workshop, Day 1 | Houston Room

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Committee Meetings | Fort Worth Room

Professional Development Workshops | Grapevine Room

Studbook Workshop, Day 2 | Houston Room

Lunch | Lonestar II

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Committee Meetings | Fort Worth Room

Professional Development Workshops | Grapevine Room

Studbook Workshop, Day 3 | Houston Room

Lunch | Lonestar II

Friday, February 16, 2024
(Optional) Post Conference Firearms Training Demonstration/Range Day ($125)
Click here for more information

Welfare 101 – The Basics of Building a Welfare Program

Come learn about the basic building blocks of an animal welfare program. This workshop will also discuss key steps to developing a program that fits your facility. Whether you’re looking to start fresh or enhance your current program, this workshop will provide you with the tools you need! Bring your thoughts, questions, concerns, and any current components your facility may have with you and be ready to discuss all things regarding animal wellbeing.

The ZAA Safety and Security Committee invites you to join us for this half-day, interactive workshop, featuring insights from zoo leadership and security professionals on risk mitigation, security strategies focused on animal protection and human safety, and developing personnel training plans. Each presentation will be followed by facilitated small group discussions, allowing participants to exchange ideas and strategies.

The workshop will be facilitated by subject matter experts representing Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue, and Recovery (ZDR3), Growing Resiliency for Aquarium and Zoo Employees (GRAZE), the Tactical Firearms Academy (TFA), Fort Worth Zoo, and Dakota Zoo.

Agenda includes:

  • Assessing Risks/Reviewing the Plan
  • How to use Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planning tools to enhance your overall planning and security-specific considerations.
  • Review of the elements of USDA contingency planning regulation that are not always considered, including the annual review.
  • Insights on how to implement these strategies at your facility.
  • Animal Protection Considerations
  • Strategies to prevent animal theft, barrier breaches, and other risks unique to animal facilities.
  • Developing a Training Plan
  • How to use relevant Department of Homeland Security (DHS) materials to assist you in developing/enhancing your personnel training plans.
  • Examples of training plans and implementation strategies from other facilities.
  • Tabletop Exercises with a Focus on Severe Weather Events
  • Opportunity to participate in sample tabletop exercises, with the participation of SMEs.
  • Strategies for how best to utilize tabletop exercises at your own organization.

Offense Is the Best Defense

Join the PR & Marketing Committee for a round table style workshop that will inspire conversations regarding the sometimes-terrifying act of "putting ourselves out there". Discussions and tips for staying ahead of the media and best practices regarding our field's evolving language will inspire our message of animal welfare and conservation.

Workshop #1: Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab (PORTL)

Take your training skills to the next level with a half-day PORTL workshop. PORTL, which stands for the Portable Operant Research and Teaching Lab, is a tabletop shaping game. You can use PORTL to practice your training mechanics, improve your shaping skills, and learn more about how training works!

This workshop will consist of short lectures, hands-on PORTL exercises, and time for discussion. The hands-on exercises will allow you to practice your shaping skills with another human as the learner. You will also get to play the role of the learner, which will give you more insight into how people and animals learn.

Throughout the workshop, you’ll learn about behavior principles and techniques that will help you create optimal learning situations when working with both animals and people. You’ll also learn foundation skills that will help you problem solve and think more creatively when designing training solutions.

Workshop Facilitator:

Mary Hunter earned an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Chicago in 2008 and a master’s degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas in 2013. She runs her own animal training and consulting business and serves as president of The Art and Science of Animal Training, a Texas-based nonprofit that provides educational programs for professional animal trainers. Mary teaches classes at the University of North Texas as an adjunct instructor. In 2017, she converted an upper-level undergraduate class into a self-paced, mastery-based course using Dr. Fred Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction. Mary’s main research interests include studying the process of shaping and developing better methods for teaching both people and animals. Currently, Mary teaches online classes for animal behavior professionals through the Behavior Explorer website.

Workshop #2: Interventions to Address Undesired Behaviors and Improve Animal Welfare

Do any of these situations sound familiar? The animal tolerated an injection once but has not voluntarily participated in the behavior again. It is impossible to close the door when the animal is in holding. The animal refuses to enter a chute. The animal is afraid to approach people or shows aggressive responses towards specific people for no identifiable reasons. These challenges are making it difficult for training to progress.

You may have followed all the standard recommendations, such as offering many preferred food items, giving the animal more time, and showing great sensitivity to body language. However, there has been little to no improvement in behavior.

Join this workshop to practice working through applying interventions using emerging ideas in behavior science and practical application that are helping animal professionals overcome these challenges. The results are improved animal welfare as well as achieving desired behavioral goals.

Workshop Facilitator: ZAA Animal Training Committee

Strategies and Skills to Harness Your Team, Enhance your Guest Experiences and Make More Money!

Adam Senior (CREW training and Development) will present a Guest Engagement Strategy and Skill Development Training Seminar that will allow participants to walk away with immediate strategies and techniques to enhance experiences and increase income. This staff management, development and income generation course will give participants ‘Take Away’ Tips and ideas to start putting into practice for the season ahead. Adam will outline key strategies and techniques that he uses when working with client organisations to help them enable successful/strategic guest engagement that increases dwell time, spend per head and income/donation generation.

This is an interactive, collaborative course that allows, brainstorming, creative thinking, personal skill and confidence development; whilst giving participants a check list of how to improve income generation through team interactions and performance on their own site. This session will be facilitated by LynnLee Schmidt (Tanganyika Wildlife Park, ZAA) who will work with Adam and the participants to highlight key strategies for Culture Building using data, evaluations and evidence from guest and staff engagements at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. This quantifiyable data will help participants target their own strategies and development plans.

Adam and LynnLee will guide participants through a practical exploration of transferable strategies and skills that will help them walk away with their own ‘road map’ for embedding Income Generating Engagement Strategies within their team, at their site in 2024.

Advocacy 101 – Government Affairs and You

Learn about the activities of the ZAA Government Affairs program and how you and your facility can get engaged. Will provide an overview of the ZAA Government Affairs strategy and approach to legislative and regulatory issues. Discussion of how ZAA members and facilities can actively engage with state and federal officials and policy makers.

Topics will include:

  • A government affairs “tool kit” for engaging with your representatives.
  • Monitoring legislation in your state.
  • Submitting written comments and testimony and appearing at legislative hearings.
  • The Congressional Zoo and Aquarium Caucus as an entry point.

2024 Mid Year Meeting Refund Policy

If ZAA cancels the 2024 Mid Year Meeting, there is a full refund.

If the attendee cancels their registration:

  • Before 11/30/23: 75% refund
  • Between 12/1/23-1/30/24: 50% refund
  • 1/31/24 and after: no refund

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