1) Enrichment for All!
I try to do daily enrichment for some of the animals that I work for, generally the ones that we all regard as the "smart ones" - primates, carnivores. I want to expand on that and do enrichment for every species in the collection, the tortoises, sloths, the flighty birds that I hate having to count and recount every morning... We repeatedly see that virtually all animals are more intelligent than we previously thought they were (that or people are getting dumber...), so who's to say that you have to be big and furry to benefit from some extra TLC from the keepers?
2) Fact Sheets!
A key feature of this blog has been the species fact profiles. I make these so that I can share exciting less familiar zoo animals with the public. Everyone thinks that lions and giraffes are cool, but compared to a capybara or a cassowary? I mean, come on! I plan on researching and writing fact sheets for all of the animals that I care for... and I encourage all the other keepers out there to do the same. Not only does it make you look super-smart when talking to visitors (more on that later), but having more knowledge about your animals - their captive management, their lives in the wild - can help lead to better care, and thereby make you a better keeper.
It would be easy to get the impression that I don't like visitors. That's patently untrue. I don't like stupid people. Some of them just happen to visit my zoo. I realize, however, that zoos and aquariums are doomed to failure unless they engage the public and make the visitors care about wildlife and conservation. This year, I want to reach out to visitors more - solicit questions, chat them up, share interesting news with them (including ways that they themselves can make a difference for animals).
4) Walk the Walk!
Speaking of which, I want to be greener myself, both at home and in work. Walk or bike more, drive less. Compost and recycle. Eat less meat (I can't force myself to go cold turkey... pun intended) and use sustainable seafood and palm oil. And, at the risk of earning my girlfriend's wrath, keeping the thermostat just a hair lower in the winter. Sure, I can't make too huge of a difference myself - but a lot of people working together can.
5) Go to the Zoo... Again!
This isn't just about having a fun day out, or getting more material for blog posts. Visiting other zoos and aquariums frequently helps me come up with new ideas to bring back to my workplace, and the sharing of new ideas is what makes our profession grow. Sometimes it's a great idea of how to do something. Other times it's a warning of what not to do. In any case, great learning opportunities abound, and you can show your support for other institutions.
6) Get Involved!
Zoos and aquariums have lots of programs and opportunities to help protect the future of endangered species. They only work, however, if people get involved. This year, I want to join some committees, work with Species Survival Plans, and get involved in professional development. Just like #4, one person can make a difference by himself or herself, but can make a much bigger difference as part of a greater unit.
Okay, it's New Year's Eve and I'm still typing this? Time to go:
7) Get a Life Outside of Work!
This resolution I may break...