|Lehigh Valley Zoo
January 15, 2018
Lehigh Valley Zoo Conservation Education Director Named to National Committee
Schnecksville, PA – The Lehigh Valley Zoo announced today that Cher Vatalaro was selected to serve as a Steering Committee member on the Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group (AASAG) sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). “It is an honor to be named to the AASAG committee whose mission is to emphasize the importance of ambassador animals in education.” Said Cher Vatalaro, Conservation Education Director for the Lehigh Valley Zoo, “Meeting a wild animal up close frequently has a huge impact on people. Fostering that one-on-one connection between people and ambassador animals is a passion of mine.”
Ambassador animals are the representatives of their species that are utilized in educational presentations both inside the zoo and out in the community. Close bonds develop between the ambassador animals and the educators that care for them. The educators bring the ambassador animals out to the public for one-on-one encounters. This encounter can often improve the person’s perspective about animals and conservation. ASSAG is a growing field of research and study to set universal standards for the care of the ambassador animals as well as the care and safety of the animal and human interaction. No longer is it acceptable for animals to “perform” in these interactions. The goal is to create an interaction that is as natural as possible for the animal. “For instance” said Cher, “I could hold a snake in my hands when I bring him out to a group of children or I could bring a glass case filled with sand and show the children how the snake tunnels into the ground. Introducing the children to the snake in the sand is more natural and more educational. The AZA Advisory Group I’ve been named to will research and set standards for hundreds of animals across the country that are employed for educational purposes.”
The AZA Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group has carved out the following initiatives for its work this year: 1) Establish best practices for Ambassador Animals, 2) Enhance sustainability of animal populations, 3) Support research on ambassador animals including welfare and the impact of ambassador animals messaging to the public, and 4) review and establish national curriculum for the Program Animal Training Course.
“Our strategic plan is to safeguard wild animals in our care alongside supporting efforts to sustain endangered animals in the wild.” Said Zoo president, Melissa Borland. “Cher Vatalaro’s appointment to this AZA committee acknowledges that Lehigh Valley Zoo’s leadership in conservation education and protection of endangered animals is recognized at a national level.”
Lehigh Valley Zoo is located at 5150 Game Preserve Road, Schnecksville, PA 18078.
About the Lehigh Valley Zoo:
As a member-supported non-profit organization, Lehigh Valley Zoological Society was founded in 2004, but as a treasured community landmark, the Zoo’s history spans over a century. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Lehigh Valley Zoo hosts year-round, family-friendly events and activities, educational programs, and camps. With a mission to create a safe, engaging and enlightening wildlife experience for guests of all ages, the Zoo demonstrates leadership in the cultural, scientific and conservation communities. To learn more about Lehigh Valley Zoo, we invite you to visit our website, www.lvzoo.org, or follow us on Facebook.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.