Virginia Zoo Implements Keeper Workshops in the Philippines funded by WAZA International Training Grant

A technical team from Virginia Zoo visited the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines during the last week of February to implement a five-day series of zoo keeper training workshops on wildlife management. As we reported earlier, three staff members from Virginia Zoo developed the workshops in collaboration with staff from the main Philippine partner organization, the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation. The Virginia Zoo team consisted of Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Amanda Guthrie, Zoo Keeper Chelsea Hohlweg and me.

The workshops took place from Feb. 22-26 and combined a series of morning classroom training sessions with afternoon practical training sessions held at the wildlife center facilities of the Biodiversity Conservation Center. Classroom session subject material included animal restrain and handling, record keeping, nutrition and food handling, preventive health, enrichment and training, exhibit design, zoonotic disease, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, facility safety and contingency planning. There was also a facilitator-lead morning session for each participating institution to develop a needs assessment for their facility and then group discussions on regional synergy and development opportunities and a grant-planning session.

Afternoon practical sessions focused mainly on enrichment, nutrition and food handling, with facilitators also available to work one-on-one with participants on any subject they desired. We will continue to work with local partners on development plans other conservation projects in the region we planned at the event.

By Roger Sweeney, Assistant Director
Virginia Zoo
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Workshop banner produced for the project.
Practical enrichment training session
The Virginia Zoo’s Dr. Amanda Guthrie (left) and Zoo Keeper Chelsea Hohlweg during an afternoon practical session on enrichment.
Making fruit bat enrichment
Workshop participants making an enrichment feeder for flying foxes

Discussing warty pig enrichment

Making warty pig enrichment, 1
Making enrichment puzzle-feeder for warty pigs
Various items purchased and donated
Various items purchased and donated during the workshops.