Monday, January 26, 2009

Thailand Zoo Association Visit
Today we were hosted by the wonderful folks at The Zoological Park Organization. This group oversees the five government zoos in Thailand. These facilities are leaders in wildlife conservation and research in the region and have an impressive staff complement of experts in these fields. This is the organization that hosts the clouded leopard breeding project managed by Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Nashville Zoo. The ZPO’s headquarters is at Dusit Zoo, located in the heart of Bangkok. (Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to actually see much of the zoo due to our busy work agenda.)

This meeting was arranged by JoGayle Howard from the National Zoo to touch base about the breeding project with the leaders of the ZPO, especially its Director General Mr. Sophon. JoGayle has long-term relationships with Mr. Sophon and many other ZPO staff members so everyone enjoyed the chance to re-connect in person. Also joining us was Rick Passaro, the breeding project manager. Rick and JoGayle provided a review of the breeding program and discussed the potential of identifying additional opportunities to collaborate for keeper training and the development of promotional and educational opportunities regarding the project. This project has been supported for many years by the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, both financially and by sending a relief manager Andy Goldfarb to provide Rick with vacation time. We also may be providing additional assistance with the staff training and education components of the project in the future.

We also apprised Mr. Sophon and the ZPO’s Assistant Director, Mr. Boripat of the Felid Summit. They generously offered the ZPO’s public relations office to distribute a news release about the meeting to gain media coverage of our press event on the final evening of the Summit. We are very grateful for this as they have an established network of press contacts that will hopefully result in significant coverage of the meeting, thereby promoting the importance of our conservation efforts and the action plan for cat conservation in the region.

As we have quickly come to expect during our time in Thailand, Mr. Sophon and his staff were amazing and generous hosts, sharing a fantastic meal of never-ending taste treat sensations for our lunch break. As a very small thank you, I gave Mr. Sophon a CLP cap – I think he liked his gift!


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