8
Assessment of Overall Directions in Animal Care and Management

An important part of the charge to the committee was to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the overall directions that the National Zoo has taken over the years and to comment on changes that have recently been made in the zoo’s system of animal care and management. As part of this evaluation, the committee reviewed changes that reportedly have been implemented since its interim report was published. More important, this final report provides an assessment of the overall directions that the zoo has taken in the last 10 years with regard to animal care and management. In an evaluation of available information, several trends became apparent. Those trends are identified as short-term, long-standing, favorable, and unfavorable. Where appropriate, priorities for change are identified, and recommendations for continued work in specific directions are made.

Facilities

The Rock Creek Park zoo facility consists of 22 major buildings with a combined total area of about 600,000 ft2 (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). The Smithsonian Institution secretary and the zoo director testified to Congress in 2003 that “over half of the zoo buildings have seriously compromised structural, mechanical, electrical and fire and life safety systems” (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). A Smithsonian Institution Facility Management Integration Task Force recommended organizational changes to integrate facility maintenance, management, and operations (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). The task force stated that “the living collection at the zoo necessitates vigilance by facility professionals with respect to code compliance for animal care and containment facilities. These unique circumstances pose critical concerns due to the vastly decayed structures and building systems at the zoo.” The most recent American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) accreditation report (2003a) also noted a great amount of deferred maintenance. Several buildings have been demolished because of their poor condition. The most seriously deteriorated facilities today include the Bird House, the Invertebrate Area, the Elephant House, the Small Mammals House, Beaver Valley, the Seals and Sea Lions Area, the Bears Area, the Sloth Bears Area, and the Reptiles Area (Table 8-1 and Figure 8-1).

A recovery plan that has been developed will require at least $250 million over the next decade to implement. The plan requires tripling the maintenance and repair budget of the zoo to $12 million per year (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). In March 2003, AZA gave the zoo 1 year to fix its most obvious structural deficiencies and various other shortcomings or potentially lose its accreditation (AZA, 2003a). The prior accreditation report (AZA, 1997) had noted multiple areas of the zoo that were poorly maintained, whereas the 1992 report (AZA, 1992) failed to note any major deficiencies in facilities or in their maintenance. Together, those data strongly suggest a serious decline in the infrastructure of the zoo over the last decade and a failure to meet accepted standards for AZA-accredited institutions.

Since the release of the committee’s interim report (NRC, 2004a), AZA announced that the zoo had regained full 5-year accreditation. The FY 2005 budget request submitted by the Smithsonian Institution to the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provides further evidence of a commitment to a major revitalization of the zoo facilities (Table 8-2).



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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report 8 Assessment of Overall Directions in Animal Care and Management An important part of the charge to the committee was to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the overall directions that the National Zoo has taken over the years and to comment on changes that have recently been made in the zoo’s system of animal care and management. As part of this evaluation, the committee reviewed changes that reportedly have been implemented since its interim report was published. More important, this final report provides an assessment of the overall directions that the zoo has taken in the last 10 years with regard to animal care and management. In an evaluation of available information, several trends became apparent. Those trends are identified as short-term, long-standing, favorable, and unfavorable. Where appropriate, priorities for change are identified, and recommendations for continued work in specific directions are made. Facilities The Rock Creek Park zoo facility consists of 22 major buildings with a combined total area of about 600,000 ft2 (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). The Smithsonian Institution secretary and the zoo director testified to Congress in 2003 that “over half of the zoo buildings have seriously compromised structural, mechanical, electrical and fire and life safety systems” (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). A Smithsonian Institution Facility Management Integration Task Force recommended organizational changes to integrate facility maintenance, management, and operations (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). The task force stated that “the living collection at the zoo necessitates vigilance by facility professionals with respect to code compliance for animal care and containment facilities. These unique circumstances pose critical concerns due to the vastly decayed structures and building systems at the zoo.” The most recent American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) accreditation report (2003a) also noted a great amount of deferred maintenance. Several buildings have been demolished because of their poor condition. The most seriously deteriorated facilities today include the Bird House, the Invertebrate Area, the Elephant House, the Small Mammals House, Beaver Valley, the Seals and Sea Lions Area, the Bears Area, the Sloth Bears Area, and the Reptiles Area (Table 8-1 and Figure 8-1). A recovery plan that has been developed will require at least $250 million over the next decade to implement. The plan requires tripling the maintenance and repair budget of the zoo to $12 million per year (Smithsonian Institution, 2003b). In March 2003, AZA gave the zoo 1 year to fix its most obvious structural deficiencies and various other shortcomings or potentially lose its accreditation (AZA, 2003a). The prior accreditation report (AZA, 1997) had noted multiple areas of the zoo that were poorly maintained, whereas the 1992 report (AZA, 1992) failed to note any major deficiencies in facilities or in their maintenance. Together, those data strongly suggest a serious decline in the infrastructure of the zoo over the last decade and a failure to meet accepted standards for AZA-accredited institutions. Since the release of the committee’s interim report (NRC, 2004a), AZA announced that the zoo had regained full 5-year accreditation. The FY 2005 budget request submitted by the Smithsonian Institution to the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provides further evidence of a commitment to a major revitalization of the zoo facilities (Table 8-2).

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Table 8- 1. Current Status and Plans for Animal Exhibit Areas Area Condition of Facilities as of Feb 2004b Construction, Repair, and Demolition Planned for 2004c Deer/Tapir Area Failing Scheduled for demolition in spring 2004 to allow for construction of Asia Trail I and II. Bird House Failing Bird House screen and misting head repair completed. Owl exhibit renovation to be completed in 2004 New shed and heated water for Kori Bustard Yard to be completed in 2004 Heat for wetland ponds planned for 2004 General painting for Bird House Areas planned for 2004 Crane yard fence to be extended in 2004 Winter bird holding construction to be completed in September 2004 Upgrade of emergency generators is being planned Invertebrates Failing Lids ECT to be completed in 2004 Repairs to soil table and large beetle tank planned for 2004 Pandas Good Railing modification, unknown completion time. Prairie Trail Good Prairie Dog exhibit is being planned Cheetah Conservation Station Fair Railing modification, unknown completion time. Kangaroo Area Good — a Facility condition as indicated by NZP Failure Map (NZP, 2004 Progress Report Appendix) b Renewal and maintenance projects for 2004 as indicated by NZP List of Active OFEO Projects for Maintenance and Major Renewal (NZP, 2004 Progress Report Appendix).

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Area Condition of Facilities as of Feb 2004 Construction, Repair, and Demolition Planned for 2004 Elephant House Failing Male elephant yard work and hydraulic gate work completed in January 2004 Renovation of Elephant House as part of Asia Trail II slated to start in September 2005 and be completed in 2007; male elephant pen upgrade is being planned Beaver Valley Failing Upper Beaver Valley demolition complete Beaver/ Otter exhibit repairs to be completed in May 2004 Seals/ Sea Lions Failing Emergency rock repair to be completed February 2004 Seal/ Sea Lion Chiller and Roof Replacement to be completed March 2004 Bears Failing Escape hatch maintenance planned for 2004 Small Mammals Failing Miscellaneous repairs completed Roof/ skylight repair to be completed in 2004 Black- footed Ferret exhibit being planned Great Apes Fair Removal of deteriorated and rusted shelving in quarantine area planned for 2004 Gibbons Fair New exhaust fan and dehumidifier planned for 2004 Sloth Bears Failing   Reptiles Failing Radiant heat installation planned for 2004. Slate feeding pad installed in Giant Tortoise Yard planned for 2004. Giant Salamander exhibit is being planned.

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Area Condition of Facilities as of Feb 2004 Construction, Repair, and Demolition Planned for 2004 Think Tank Good Radiant heat installation in outdoor macaque enclosure to be completed in 2004 New flooring at Lemur Island holding area planned for 2004 Great Cats Fair Lion and tiger pool repair to be completed in March 2004 Climbing furniture and elevated feeding platform to be installed in Red Panda exhibit Amazonia Good Carpet replacement scheduled for February 2004. Fog system maintenance on hold Pathway improvement on hold for farm construction. Waterproofing/ structural study to be postponed until 2004/ 2005 Upgrade of emergency generators being planned Kids Farm Good Completed in spring 2004

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Figure 8-1. Facility condition as indicated by the NZP Failure Map (NZP, NZP, AZA Accreditation Progress Report, 2004).

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Table 8-2. Smithsonian Institution FY 2005 Request to OMB for Major Revitalization of Facilities of National Zooa   Request in thousands of dollars in FY   2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Out Years 2003- 2011 Design Africa Exhibit 800 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Asia II and III Design Elephant Relocation 2,500 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Design Major Revitalization (Africa, Americas, Ape) 1,000 0 6,000 2,000 0 0 0 0 8,000 Update Rock Creek Master Plan 0 0 2,000 0 0 0 0 0 2,000 Design Ape Renovation 1,000 0   0 0 0 0 0 0 Design Small Mammals Renovation 0 0 0 0 3,000 0 0 0 3,000 Design Reptile and Invertebrates Renovation 0 0 0 0 0 3,000 0 0 3,000 Continue Design for Revitalization of Major Structures (B 0 0 0 0 0 0 6,000 2,000 8,000 Design Roof and Skylight Replacement 400 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Asia Trail I - (renovate Deer and Tapir Area) 7,000 9,000 15,000 0 0 0 0 0 24,000 Asia Trail II: Elephants FY05 ABOVE LINE REQUEST 0 0 34,000 29,000 0 0 0 0 63,000 Africa Exhibit 0 0 0 0 20,000 20,000 0 0 40,000 Renovate Seal/ Sea Lion and Lower Bear (Americas) 0 0 0 17,000 20,000 0 0 0 37,000 Renovate Ape House 0 0 0 0 0 15,000 0 0 15,000 Renovate Small Mammals 0 0 0 0 0 0 30,000   30,000 Continue Revitalization of Major Structures 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 34,000 34,000 Construct Consolidated Maintenance Facility 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 5,000 Improve/ Upgrade Site Utilities 0 0 1,000 500 500 500 500 1,500 4,500 Improve Bird, Small Mammals and/ or Reptiles 0 0 0 0 650 0 0 0 650 Renovate/ Improve Restrooms and Amenities 0 0 500 1,500 900 0 0 0 2,900 Repair Seal/ Sea Lion and Beaver/ otter (Emergency) 75 425 0 0 0 0 0 0 425 Improve Fire Protection Systems 250 0 600 200 200 500 500 600 2,600 Upgrade Lion/ Tiger Moat and Planters 0 0 0 0 0 900 0 0 900 Upgrade Lemur Island 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Replace Roof and Skylight Elephant, Reptile, Sm. Mammals 0 0 4,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 0 0 10,000 Install/ Improve Fire Protection Systems 100 0 100 100 100 200 100 300 900 Subtotal: NZP 13,125 9,425 63,200 52,300 47,570 42,100 37,100 43,400 295,095

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report The recent attention to animal enclosures and buildings that house animals is a short-term and favorable trend with long-term implications. Physical facilities should continue to have high priority for attention, and the zoo’s strategic plan should integrate the master plan for building and renovation. Animal Programs The size of the zoo animal collection started to decline in 1996; by 2002, it had decreased by 54% (NRC, 2004a). Decisions in recent years to improve the quality and safety of animal exhibits and enclosures or to build new facilities before acquiring new animals were generally prudent. The zoo has developed a fairly aggressive animal-collection plan for 2004 (NZP, Animal Collection Plan, 2004) that could result in the acquisition of about 125 new species (NZP, Animal Collection Plan, 2004). It is vitally important that the status of individual exhibits and plans for renovation be carefully considered when animal-collection plans are being developed so that failing facilities are not burdened with new animals and species, potentially endangering the animals’ welfare and safety. Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Pathology Over the last 5 years, the Department of Animal Health has increased its clinical veterinary staff from one veterinarian in late 1999 to the current contingent of three veterinarians; the number of clinical veterinary staff has fluctuated between one and four during this period (Figure 8-2) (NZP, DAH 4-year Staffing Chart (1997-2000); NZP, DAH 4-year Staffing Chart (2001-2004)). The zoo’s veterinary-care program has operated at a suboptimal level in recent years because of a lack of priority-setting, follow-through, and planning. For example, a comprehensive preventive-medicine program has been in place at least since 1998 (NZP, Preventive Medicine Schedule, 1998), but the program has not been implemented with consistency, and the result was a substantial backlog of preventive-medicine procedures and in some cases the demise of collection animals. Similar problems were uncovered at the Center for Research and Conservation (CRC) Veterinary Services Department. Since the publication of the committee’s interim report, the Department of Animal Health has eliminated the backlog of preventive-medicine procedures, reviewed and updated its preventive-medicine protocols, and established a schedule for preventive-medicine procedures. In addition, the senior management of the zoo has established completion of scheduled preventive-medicine procedures as a monthly performance measure for both the CRC and Rock Creek Park veterinarians. If senior management continues to assess the quality of veterinary care through this and other performance measures, the committee is encouraged that the quality of veterinary care can be maintained. The zoo’s pathology department has been world renown and many important advances in veterinary medicine originated with this group. However, over the last several years, a backlog of pathology cases from 2000-2003 had developed, along with a failure to develop annual morbidity and mortality assessments. With the departure of the head of the department there is an urgent need to reestablish the essence of this department, so that it can once again become the outstanding institution it once was.

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Figure 8-2. Veterinary staffing in the Department of Animal Health, 1997–2004 Animal Welfare As documented in the interim report (NRC, 2004a), the zoo had not been complying with federal regulations enacted to ensure the welfare of zoo and research animals since 1998. Internal Smithsonian documents also indicate that as early as 1993, the Smithsonian was aware that the zoo was subject to federal animal-welfare regulations—“the Smithsonian Institution is subject to the Animal Welfare Act for all research involving vertebrate animals and is subject to the Public Health Service Policies for PHS-funded research” (Smithsonian Institution, Steiner memo, July 23, 1993)—but was not in compliance with these regulations (Smithsonian Institution, Foss memo, August 17, 1993). Those letters also document that the Smithsonian was aware that the zoo’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee was not being provided with the resources or mechanism to comply fully with federal regulations (Smithsonian Institution, Foss memo, August 17, 1993). Specific recommendations were made by Smithsonian employees on how to attain compliance, but there is no evidence that any of the recommendations were acted on. After the release of the interim report (NRC, 2004a), substantial changes were made in the zoo’s animal-welfare oversight program, and the zoo was brought into compliance with both the Animal Welfare Act and PHS Policy. Continued vigilance on the part of the senior management is necessary to ensure that the welfare of the animal collection has the highest priority at the zoo.

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report Animal Nutrition As one of the first zoos in the country to employ a full-time professional nutritionist (in 1979), the zoo has given animal nutrition a high priority for the last quarter-century. That long-standing commitment has set the zoo apart from most others in nutrition research. However, recent deficiencies in the clinical-nutrition program and a lack of adequate coordination among professional staff on animal diets and feeding programs have resulted in animal deaths. Human Resources and Institutional Capacity The zoo employs federal staff and outside contractors. The total number of government full-time equivalents (FTEs) allocated to the zoo decreased from 370 in 1993 to 317 in 2000 (NZP, FTE Use, August 9, 2004)—a decline of about 14%. That trend has reversed, and the zoo is now allocated 346 FTEs. It should be noted that there was no net change in the number of keeper staff from 1993 to 2000 (NZP, Staff Gain/Loss Statement 1993-2003, September 24, 2003), although the size of the zoo’s animal collection declined by about 38% (NZP, Status of the Collection Reports, 1993-2002). In fact, as the size of the collection continued to decrease after 2000 to less than 50% of its size in 1993, the zoo added six keepers to its’ animal programs staff (NZP, Staff Gain/Loss Statement 1993-2003, September 24, 2003). The zoo now has 74 permanent keeper positions (NZP, Tanner memo, July 19, 2004). Training and Development Since 1992, AZA has identified the lack of a formal training program for animal staff as a serious deficiency (AZA, 1992; 1997; and 2003a). With no formal training program in place today, the zoo has failed to address this long-standing need. However, the number of employees who chose to participate in professional-development activities (in and outside the zoo) has increased over the last 5 years (see Chapter 3). Nevertheless, there is no formal program in place to train new employees, and less than one-third of the keeper staff will be participating in continuing education in 2004. It is imperative that the management and staff of the zoo recognize that, in general, institutional knowledge of animal husbandry and welfare has not kept pace with development in the zoologic and wildlife communities. The committee recognizes that during the last year, the zoo has been through a period of upheaval, which may have kept senior management from making substantial strides in developing institutional knowledge and establishing training priorities. However, in the committee’s opinion, the greatest outstanding concern at the zoo is the lack of keeper training or plans to advance institutional knowledge of animal husbandry and welfare through education of the current keeper staff. Strategic Planning The zoo has been operating since at least 1992 without a strategic plan (AZA, 1992). A strategic plan was completed in May 2004, but it lacked any substantial analysis of the challenges and weaknesses that the zoo must address and overcome to achieve its new vision. In addition, the strategic plan lacks any actionable plan for achieving its stated 1-year and 5-year goals. Without those elements, the committee doubts that the strategic plan can help the zoo to re-establish its preeminence in the zoo community and become “the Nation’s Zoo.” Summary After a decade-long decline in facilities, animal collection, and quality of animal programs, the National Zoo has been through a year of upheaval as it has attempted to reverse some long-standing negative trends. The committee determined that the veterinary-care and nutrition programs had been failing in their charge over the last five years to provide high-quality care for the animal collection. Important deficiencies in supervisory skills, personal responsibility, and professionalism throughout the Department of Animal Programs and management structure contributed to animal deaths at the zoo. In addition, the leadership of the zoo and the Smithsonian Institution over the last 10 years missed prominent opportunities to arrest some of the deficiencies at the zoo. In

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Animal Care and Management at the National Zoo: Final Report particular, the leadership failed to act on deficiencies that were brought to its attention in the early 1990s; this resulted in a lack of resources and support for programs that ensure animal welfare and provide training and professional development. The committee was presented with copious evidence that the zoo has many strengths, including the quality of its science programs and the dedication of its staff. The zoo staff have expended enormous time and energy to enact favorable changes at the zoo as quickly as possible. Over the last 6 months, they have reorganized the preventive-medicine and nutrition programs, and made great strides in developing an electronic keeper record system, centralizing their commissary, and establishing performance measures and accountability at all levels of the organization. For the National Zoo to regain its preeminence in the zoo community, the leaders of the Smithsonian and of the zoo must ensure that resources and support continue to flow into the zoo so that the zoo can address the major obstacles still ahead of it: establishing rigorous animal-care staff training, establishing a climate of accountability and personal responsibility, renovation or construction of animal facilities,and the development of a complete and comprehensive strategic plan.