The harpy eagle and the songbird campaign

Author: Constanze Mager (Burgers’ Zoo, Arnhem, The Netherlands)

It is always an interesting challenge to get an EAZA campaign – invented and launched by EAZA office and a small campaign preparation group – really alive in hundreds of EAZA institutions in 44 European countries! Actually, zoos sometimes have to be convinced to participate yet in another campaign and organize fundraising and educational activities… on top of all the ‘normal crazy everyday business’ in a modern zoo!

There are a couple of very important moments in the starting-up phase of a campaign to get zoos involved: an EZE meeting, where more than hundred educators come together from all across Europe to discuss. The annual EAZA conference, when even more (mainly) curators attend. The EAZA campaign is always planned in a plenary session of lectures. Presentations on these meetings are crucial to reach the management level of zoos and to get their attitude positive about participating in a conservation campaign. But how to reach the zookeepers as well?

In some countries, zookeepers are united in an interest group. In the Netherlands, this group is called ‘de Harpij’- which means ‘the Harpy Eagle’. It has more than a thousand members. Each November there’s a  huge annual meeting. Quite often, the EAZA conservation campaign is a theme of one of the lectures during this annual conference day. Also this year! The Netherlands of course have a special advantage over other ‘European zoo countries’: the EAZA office is situated in the Netherlands, and some of the EAZA staff are native Dutch speakers… great conditions for a contentwise fantastic story in the keepers’ own language! Unfortunately this year, EAZA office staff are unavailable during the conference date. But, bit of good luck: in the education preparation team, there’s a Dutch speaking person with podium experience… me! A little rearrangement of my own daily agenda (weird that even in July the agenda for over four or five months are already running full in some weeks!), and off I’ll go to this year’s Harpy eagle-conference, to promote the new campaign on much smaller, and to be true a bit less spectacular birds as good as possible! Hopefully, there will be more campaign-ambassadors in more European countries, so that we can get a lot of people really going for the campaign… we’ll try to get the EAZA education committee members  involved in this task!