Work Hard, Play Hard

Good morning dear friends! I am writing you today from beautiful Phoenix! When we landed I thought we had gone a bit too far and landed in some tropical paradise!

Phoenix is my new home for a week while I attend the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Midyear conference. The gorgeous Arizona Grand Resort and Spa is playing host and guys, this place is so fancy! They took us to our room in a golf cart and that was when I realized the sheer size of the resort. It even has its own water park!

The whole week is full of interesting planning sessions, field updates, and a general sharing of all the awesome work zoos and aquariums are doing to create better lives for the animals in our care and what we’re doing to save animals in the wild.

This awesome tapir shirt represents the three organizations that collaborated together when I traveled to Ecuador last March to GPS collar wild mountain tapirs in an effort to better understand what areas they are ranging in and where we should focus our conservation efforts. I am so proud of the work we have done and are doing for mountain tapir and I’m so incredibly pleased that our zoo members have voted once again to fully fund this special project that is so close to my heart!

Who can imagine a planet without these wonderful creatures in it? Not me. So I was super excited that almost all of the conservation field updates were about tapir projects this year! It was so inspiring to hear all the great work being done for all tapir species and I am so excited to be a part of it!

Besides the wonderful conference topics, the entire week has been full of good food and new friends. Not to mention, a keynote speech and book signing with Chelsea Clinton! Yes, that Chelsea Clinton. Why would she be speaking at a zoo conference you ask? She just published a fantastic children’s book called Don’t Let Them Disappear that is full of beautiful illustrations of twelve endangered animals and stories about them and why we want to save them. She was a great speaker and it’s fun to now have a signed copy!

When we aren’t sitting in sessions, we have been having fun checking out local restaurants like the Rustler’s Rooste, a western themed restaurant nearby the resort. This place has a rock waterfall, kid’s slide, live band, and is just a super fun themed restaurant with an amazing view of Phoenix.

We also had a great selection of exhibitors at the conference showing off their awesome wares. I especially liked the light up structures. And the SAFE wine that 100% of the proceeds go to conservation! (If you think that’s as awesome as I do, stay tuned for a link, I’m struggling to find where to purchase it online but will continue my search for the wine lover in us all!)

It’s been a blessed week full of beautiful scenery and thoughtful, important conservation discussions that have left me excited for the future of zoos and especially where tapir conservation is heading.

Catch up with me later this week for a recap of our icebreaker at the OdySea Aquarium and our day at the Phoenix Zoo! Have a great day, my friends!

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Ever been to Phoenix?

2 thoughts on “Work Hard, Play Hard

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