27th SEAZA Conference a Success

The 27th SEAZA Conference was held from 17 to 20 November 2019 at Vinpearl Convention Center, Phú Quốc, Vietnam. The Conference hosted nearly 300 delegates from all over Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

On the opening day (18 November 2019), delegates were treated to a cultural performance, followed by positive messages from key personalities. Mr. Luu Chi Hieu, general manager of Vinpearl Safari, welcomed the delegates to Phú Quốc and gave updates and reminders on Conference proceedings. Dr. Phan Viet Lam, outgoing SEAZA President, similarly welcomed the delegates and led them to the traditional SEAZA cheer. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums immediate past president Dr. Jenny Gray exhorted the zoo and aquarium community to stay connected not only with regional partners but also with the rest of the world as we all work towards good practices on biodiversity conservation and animal welfare. Vietnam’s ASEAN Biodiversity Hero, Prof. Dang Huy Huynh, also graced the occasion with a short message.

The whole day was a series of plenary lectures focusing on practices being applied by different institutions in the interest of conservation and welfare. In the evening, the guests were treated to a sumptuous welcome dinner punctuated with another wonderful cultural performance.

The second day of the Conference was the most intensive part of the event. Speakers from all over the world delivered more than 40 parallel lectures on animal health, conservation, education, zoo design, and zoo management. In the afternoon, three SEAZA committees (Animal Welfare and Ethics, Nutrition, Species Management) held their respective workshops. At the same time, the SEAZA Board had its second Board Meeting of the week to discuss the Association’s future plans, including the 2020 Conference which will be held in Myanmar. The Board Meeting was also the time for the election of the Second Vice President. The whole day of in-depth lectures was capped with a sumptuous dinner for all.

The final day of the Conference began with reports from the different committees of the Association. Highlights of activities in the past year and future directions were presented by representatives from the Animal Welfare and Ethics, Conservation, Education and Training, Membership and Information, Nutrition, and Species Management committees. After which, a final round of parallel lectures on zoo nutrition and animal training were delivered by twelve different speakers from the region. In the afternoon, the delegates were brought on a fun guided tour of Vinpearl Safari where they were also treated to lively performances by safari staff and professional performers.

After the safari visit, the General Assembly was held, where the SEAZA Board expressed its gratitude to the organizers, the delegates, and the invited guests for their active participation in the Conference. Mrs. Kyiphyu Zaw, SEAZA Board Member and Chief Executive Officer of Htoo Zoos and Gardens, invited everyone to join the 2020 Conference which will be held in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. The assembly also served as outgoing President Dr. Phan Viet Lam’s opportunity to deliver his last message as SEAZA President and to pass on the task to First Vice President Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur of Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Dr. Cheng, President of SEAZA from 2019 to 2022, delivered his first message by thanking the Board for its support and by laying out his plans for the future of SEAZA. He encouraged all members to be more active in the Association’s activities and to also join Species360 where he is concurrently an incoming chair.

The Conference was wrapped up by a Farewell Dinner featuring a performance showcasing Vietnam’s cultural dances, and a traditional SEAZA highlight: the skits per country. We at SEAZA would like to thank the almost 300 delegates for your kind participation in the Conference and for making it a resounding success. We hope to see you next year in Myanmar!

The 27th SEAZA Conference was brought by Vinpearl Safari and the Vietnam Zoos Association. Corporate sponsors were Mazuri (c/o Allpets Asia Pte Ltd., Singapore) and The Ark. Photos can be found on the Facebook page.

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