As part of my role as CEO of RSPCA ACT I was given the unique opportunity to visit America in 2006 and visit a number of animal shelters and welfare organisations.
We started in San Diego with a visit to the zoo and a learning experience associated with large animal welfare.
The setup of the zoo is fantastic, with well equipped veterinary facilities to handle animals a little larger than cats and dogs!
The education centre is designed for kids and adults a like and really showcases the work the zoo does in relation to endangered species, breeding programs and work with other zoos to maintain a diverse gene pool of some of the most at risk animals in the world.
We then enjoyed a private tour of the grounds. We saw the who is who of the animal kingdom, including the big five people often visit South Africa to see on safari.
We attended a Lynx (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx) enrichment session and learned a lot about cat behaviour, which would help with or cat enrichment programs back home.
We continued our tour witnesses elephants, rhinos, flamingos, lions, pandas, baboons, Giraffes, polar bears, eagles and a host of other species. It was a greta day.
The next day we visited the San Diego Humane Society and enjoyed a tour of their facility. We learned about adoption programs, rehabilitation programs, infant kitten fostering, dog behaviour and a host of enrichment programs for a range of species. Being relatively new to the RSPCA movement, I was soaking up the experience and noting down a host of things I could do to improve our shelter and the life of the 10,000 animal we cared for annually.
I also spent some time with the marketing and fund raising teams. I was keen to learn about fund raising efforts, although this $25m shelter and $40m annual budget were in a different league to the little old RSPCA in Canberra. Nonetheless, I still learned a lot from this group of folks and would be able to adapt a range of ideas into our programs.
We left after a great day and headed down to Los Angeles.