All Hazards Contingency Planning 

The planning process is more important than the plan itself 

Every exotic animal owner and operator should have a plan for what to do in the event of an incident. If done correctly, the contingency planning process will result in an action plan to guide your facility through an incident or disaster and mitigate impact to visitors, staff, animals, and the facility itself.  The complexity of your plan will be dictated by many factors, including the number and types of species you have in your collection. The more animals you have, especially if they include potentially dangerous species, the more time it may take you to write a plan.

On this page you will find resources that will give you and your planning team a great foundation to begin the planning process for your facility.  

Planning Modules

This series of training modules is 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 training also includes information to help participants develop training and exercises that will ensure staff and outside responders learn and practice the plan!

There are 6 narrated modules, accompanied by a workbook to give participants additional tools and resources needed to effectively complete their plan.  Each module is embedded below, along with a link to a PDF of its slides and narration.  For the best viewing, we recommend expanding the videos to full screen mode.  


Click here to view and download the accompanying Contingency Planning Workbook 

Module 1: Set Goals and Start Contingency Planning

Module 2: Partners in Preparedness

Module 3: Disaster Risk Assessment

Module 4: Needs and Limitations


Module 5: Write the Plan

Module 6: Training and Maintenance

© All rights reserved by ZAHP. No copyright is claimed for government materials used herein. The information here is intended solely as summary information for zoo and aquarium employees and viewers in the general public. It contains recommendations but creates no new legal obligations nor accreditation standards for AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.

Zoo Best Practices Working Group for Disaster Preparedness and Contingency Planning

This working group was designed to promote a culture of all hazards contingency planning and preparedness for the managed wildlife community. 

Below you will find documents designed to provide a starting point for basic information on drafting contingency plans. The Working Group materials contain basic planning recommendations and best practices in a ‘check box’ format. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of material in these documents. Not every planning element is needed by every facility,  but even the best plans can be improved upon.  

Please note: these materials were prepared in 2011, so some of the embedded links may no longer be active. 


Zoo Best Practices Working Group documents