Created to bridge the gap in communication between the managed wildlife community and the emergency management sector, the Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Preparedness, Response and Recovery (ZAHP) Fusion Center is a USDA-funded initiative that works to disseminate critical information on prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery to the managed wildlife community while developing new partnerships with federal agencies, local and state emergency responders, and private sector groups concerned with animal welfare and emergency management.

Microgrant Recipients

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2017 Contingency Planning Microgrants! Click here for more information. 

Getting Started 

Click here for information and resources that will help you if you are are just starting  your planning process

Contact Us

We want to hear from you! Click here if you have questions for ZAHP or would like to join our mailing list

What’s New

The ZAHP Fusion Center is pleased to officially launch three training opportunities!

  • The Contingency Planning Modules are intended for any facility wanting to better understand the planning process. Participants will be introduced to best practices for planning including how to identify and assess risks to their facility, identify needs and limitations to responding safely and effectively, and write a contingency plan. 
  • The Incident Command System (ICS) training was developed by the ZAHP Fusion Center's Zoo Ready project specifically to introduce ICS to captive wildlife facilities. This is ICS 100 course taught by the Emergency Management Institute, but using animal-specific examples. Check it out!
  • The Avian Influenza Zoo Preparedness Exercise walks participants through a simulated Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak, asking them to consider how these developments would be handled at their facilities in order to assess preparedness.      


ZAHP Updates

  • June 22, 2017

    HAZMAT: Could it Happen to You?

    This update includes a debrief on a hazardous materials tabletop that recently took place at a zoo including links to resources and materials that can assist other facilities concerned about that threat.   Information for free virtual trainings from the office of bombing protection, links to archival copies of NOAA’s 2017 Hurricane Awareness webinar series, and information on how to participate in a survey of preparedness in our industry currently being conducted by graduate students at the University of Chicago’s Threat and Response Management Program is also included. 


    HAZMAT:  Could it Happen to You?

    Rail lines, natural gas, and oil pipelines zigzag across this country.  Semi tankers carry millions of gallons of hazardous materials on our roadways daily.  If there should be a spill at a nearby rail yard, or a ruptured pipeline adjacent to your facility, are you prepared?  To evaluate their preparedness plans for just such an emergency, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (OHDZA) teamed up with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to develop and host “HAZMAT at the Zoo”.  Spearheaded by the Zoo’s security team and veterinary departments, experienced exercise developers with NEMA drafted a realistic mass casualty/mass fatality based scenario for the facility.   The tabletop exercise simulated a toxic chemical leak at a rail yard adjacent to the Zoo on a crowded Saturday, with a resulting chemical cloud covering portions of the zoo and impacting staff, volunteers, visitors, and collections.  Exercise objectives tested Operational Communications, Coordination, Public Information and Warning, and more using the Incident Command System (ICS). The exercise was highly successful, and the zoo and responders both came away with ideas to improve their plans for HAZMAT events at the zoo.


    The scenario included a wide range of representation from emergency response agencies and the zoological community, with final numbers exceeding 90 people!  The guest list included zoo staff, city and county first responders, state and federal agencies, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, and 3 other zoological facilities in the area.  While those facilities were not affected by the ‘virtual spill’, this represented a great opportunity to collaborate and share information across the industry, giving participants the ability to return to their own institution and develop or improve their own plan. Despite the robust attendance list, participants were still able to identify additional agencies they may need to connect with in this type of incident, such as local hospitals and the county coroner. Another area of improvement identified, was to provide examples of similar incidents and their response for future exercises.


    Please see below for resources that may help you assess HAZMAT risks at your facility and prepare for a potential incident.  If you are thinking of developing your own tabletop exercise and would like more information, please email Ashley at the ZAHP Fusion Center who can provide you with additional resources as well as contact information for the OHDZA.




    Free Trainings and Resources

    • Office ...
  • May 16, 2017

    2017 Safety Summit Recap, Hurricane Season Information, and More

    This update includes a valuable debrief from the 2017 Safety Summit, information regarding the upcoming hurricane season, and more.  

    In this update:

    • Hurricane season information
    • 2017 Safety Summit debrief including:
      • Introduction to  Infrastructure Protection programs from the department of homeland security
      • Summit presentations
      • Sample drill reporting documents from zoos and aquariums
    • Cybersecurity
    • 2017 Community Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza (report)  


    Hurricane Season 2017

    The Atlantic hurricane season will officially start on June 1st, meaning there is no better time than the present to make sure your facility is prepared.  The projected forecast  for the Atlantic hurricane season is less active than the 2016 season, with a total of 12 named storms, six (6) hurricanes, and two (2) major hurricanes expected.  Another factor in this forecast is the potential development of an El Nino Southern Oscillation sometime during the season,  in their last update NOAA put the odds of development at 50%

    It is important to note that there is no strong correlation between the number of storms and the number of U.S. landfalls, so facilities on the Atlantic coast should prepare regardless of the forecast.  As part of their Weather Ready Nation initiative, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has compiled a robust collection of useful links and helpful tips  for last week’s Hurricane Preparedness Week, accessible here: .


    Safety Summit 2017

    In late March, the ZAHP Fusion Center participated in the Safety Summit held at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Midyear meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are happy to share the following presentations and relevant documents with you:

    • DHS Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program (courtesy of Jeff Murray, Protective Security Advisor – Department of Homeland Security)
      • Attendees were given an introduction to the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Risk Assessment Program. Under this program Protective Security Advisors are able to assist facility owners and operators via Assist Visits and a subsequent Infrastructure Survey Tool (IST) security survey,  ultimately providing a detailed assessment of the security and resilience of a facility.  More information can be found at , but some key point from the introduction to this program are that it is: 
        • Completely free
        • Voluntary and non-regulatory, i.e. you will not be reported to any regulatory agencies
        • Protected under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act, i.e. your data will not be shared
        • Available to facilities of all business models

         Each US state and territory has at least one protective security advisor that can answer any questions you may have and help you get started with the program. You can get in touch with yours by emailing

    • Conducting Complex Animal Escape Drills and Pre-Planning Events (courtesy of Anne Knapp, Director of Animal Resources and Andrea Lewicki, Administrative Assistant – Zoo New England)
      • In this session, Zoo New England will share the process for planning a complex animal escape drill, and the lessons learned from that exercise. They will also share how they use the Incident Command System to help them organize their “Free Fun Friday” events.
    • Hazards Drill Planning and Reporting (Courtesy of Casey Coy, Vice President of Operations – Florida Aquarium; George Peterson, Director of Dive Programs – Monterey Bay Aquarium; and Nate Fague, Director of Safety and Security – Mystic Aquarium)
      • It’s challenging to find the time to train and exercise, but it is SO important. In this session, participants will be given tips on planning drills in your facility, some proven ways to ‘report out’ the outcomes, and some strategies for USING what you learned ...
  • March 17, 2017

    USDA Confirms Second Case of HPAI in TN

    Yesterday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed a second case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in a commercial flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  This is the same North American wild bird origin H7N9 strain that was previously confirmed in TN. It is NOT the same H7N9 that infected humans in Asia.  The full announcement has been included at the bottom of this email.  As you may be aware,  Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) has also been detected in Tennessee ( .  While the epidemiology  for both the low and high path strains found is ongoing, they are believed to be closely related. Facilities in the affected area should monitor information provided on their State Animal Health Official’s Websites.  

    If you would like to stay up to date on surveillance efforts there are a number of reports available here, , including Monthly Summary Data from the National Wild Bird Avian Influenza Surveillance Program. 

    Looking abroad, the current HPAI outbreak in Europe sadly affected a zoo last week.  Despite being kept in a tent since December as a preventative measure, one of the pelicans at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria became acutely ill and was euthanized early last week.  Subsequent testing confirmed the presence of HPAI H5N8  in the rest of the flock, and they were culled in order to protect the zoos remaining bird stock (

    A number of you have already contacted the ZAHP Fusion Center with questions and concerns as you work on updating plains for avian influenza, and we encourage you to continue to reach out with your questions.  One commonly requested item is plan examples,  and we do have a handful of de-identified institutional plans that can be provided as an additional resource upon request.  Please send any questions or request to


    USDA Confirms Second Case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a Commercial Flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee

    The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee.  It is NOT the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia.  The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case.

    Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

    USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response.  State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun.  Federal and State partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site.  

    The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA works with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets and in migratory wild bird populations.

    USDA will be informing the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts.

    The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread. As a reminder, the proper ...