The managed wildlife community is a diverse mix of licensed exhibitors, sanctuaries, game ranches, and other facilities. While business models differ, all operators and owners would be impacted should a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak occur within their institution. The emergence of several strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza in North America in 2014 is a recent example of how business operations must change to protect collections and, for licensed exhibitors, to remain “open for business.”
The Secure Zoo program is a joint effort between United States Department of Agriculture, The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Preparedness Response and Recovery Fusion Center (“ZAAHP” Fusion Center). The Secure Zoo program is based upon the successful producer-driven Secure Milk, Secure Pork and Secure Egg programs. These industries understand that traditional FAD mitigation strategies would essentially put them out of business. Secure Zoo has adopted the framework for these models, which stress biosecurity, animal movement and recovery in the face of disease outbreaks. Secure Zoo addresses similar concerns, but at its core, stresses animal preservation and visitation. Pork producers and poultry farmers prevent visitation as a way to prevent disease transmission, but many managed wildlife facilities depend upon visitation for their very existence.
The Secure Zoo program is an opportunity to combine the expertise of many members of American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, AZA, USDA, state veterinarians and other stakeholders to produce guidance to address reasonable alternatives to antiquated mitigation strategies for our industry in the event of an FAD or other hazard.