The ZAHP Initiative 


The Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (ZAHP) Fusion Center, now in its third year,  continues to maintain its role as an information and activity hub for all-hazards preparedness for the exotic animal industry. Email updates are distributed at least monthly to an audience of over 850 people, and cover topics like HPAI, disaster preparedness and more.

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The ZAHP Fusion Center has finalized content for three training projects:  

  • The Avian Influenza Zoo Preparedness Exercise will highlight important planning elements for facilities to include in their preparedness plans.
  • The Contingency Planning training will guide facilities through the All-Hazards Contingency Planning process over six narrated modules and an accompanying workbook. Training materials were developed using the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommended steps of the planning process.
  • The Incident Command System (ICS) training introduces ICS to the captive wildlife audience by using animal-specific examples in the same ICS 100 course taught the Emergency Management Institute. 

The Fusion Center continues its development of the Secure Zoo Strategy (SZS).  Designed to align with other Secure agricultural programs (Secure Milk, Secure Pork, Secure Poultry, etc.), SZS is a business continuity platform for the exotic animal industry. Find out more about Secure Zoo Strategy by visiting the project at www.securezoostrategy.org.

The Fusion Center, along with multiple stakeholder collaborators, continues to develop the Management of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Captive Susceptible Species: Emergency Guidelines for the Exotic Animal Industry. A Guidance Document to Complement The United States Department of Agriculture FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE RESPONSE PLAN. A draft will be presented to the National Assembly for State Animal Health Officials in the fall of 2017 for approval.

Finally, ZAHP continues to accept applications for micro-grants for planning and preparedness in the exotic animal industry.  Click here for more information.  


Historical Projects

Roots for the ZAHP Fusion Center go back to 2005, when a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza strain H5N1 was smoldering in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.  There was concern that this H5N1 strain could become the next great Human Influenza Pandemic because of its ability to infect people.  H5N1 has infected people, and while the cases are primarily confined to persons working in extremely close contact with sick birds, the case fatality rate can be high.

Fortunately, the strain did not result in a pandemic in people, but the threat motivated the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Care to enter into a Cooperative Agreement with Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to create the ‘Zoo Animal Health Network”.  This project focused on preparing the community for the possible emergence of HPAI by focusing on following main project initiatives:

  • Conduct active surveillance of avian influenza in zoos. Three hundred forty five birds representing twenty-six species were sampled over a year; NO HPAI was detected during that time frame.
  • Provide the zoological community with an Outbreak Management Plan to assist State and Federal regulatory officials with handling of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 on zoo grounds. 
  • Provide an updated Vaccination Plan for zoological specimens should an appropriate vaccine be identified for use in zoos (vaccination). Vaccination Information for Accredited Zoos - Whitepaper 
  • Develop training modules “Influenzas of Non-Domestic Species” to educate the exotic animal industry on influenzas and basic Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) response.
  • Facilitate dialogue between individual zoological institutions and appropriate State and Federal regulatory veterinarians, who would work together to manage an avian influenza outbreak.

The success of these projects, and the collaborations that resulted from them paved the way to continue connecting the exotic animal industry with State and Federal regulatory efforts and other subject matter experts.  To ‘go big’, the ZAHP Fusion Center was created!




January 28, 2015

The ZAHP Fusion Center holds its first meeting on the Secure Zoo Strategy project in Raleigh, North Carolina.

July 21, 2014

Through USDA funding, AZA begins work on an all-hazards response center for the managed wildlife community, and the ZAHP Fusion Center is born!

June 15, 2012

ZAHN, in partnership with USDA, launches online training modules on foreign animal diseases for exotic wildlife exhibitors.  

June 6, 2012

ZAHN held the first Flu at the Zoo tabletop exercise in collaboration with the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Center for One Health Illinois and USDA Animal Care.

September 30, 2010

The Avian Influenza Surveillance Plan is created through a cooperative effort between USDA Animal Care and ZAHN.

January 11, 2010

The Zoo Best Practices Working Group is formed by ZAHN to consider and provide guidance on all hazards preparedness and response within the managed wildlife community.

June 11, 2008

The Zoo Animal Health Network (ZAHN), a collaborative effort between the USDA, AZA, and the Lincoln Park Zoo is formed.

June 1, 2001

Lincoln Park Zoo partners with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to host the West Nile Surveillance Working group, resulting in guidelines for surveillance in zoological institutions and a one year pilot study.