Getting Started

What does it mean to ‘be prepared'?

How will the ZAHP Fusion Center help my facility  with preparedness?

The ZAHP Fusion Center recognizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) approach to preparedness. Our projects address the elements in the Preparedness Cycle below. As you begin to discuss what preparedness means at your facility, consider the following basic elements: 


  • PLAN: All facilities should have a contingency plan to assist in the management of incidents most likely to occur.  It is important to note that the planning process is more important than the plan itselfYou can learn more about planning in our Contingency Planning Training modules.
  • ORGANIZE/EQUIP: What will your facility need to respond to the incidents that may happen?  In the Contingency Planning Modules you will learn more about ‘needs assessment’ in Module 4.  
  • TRAIN: People who are expected to respond to incidents MUST be trained to do what they are expected to do.  Training can occur in a number of different ways, and is explained in Module 6.
  • EXERCISE: After people are trained, plans should be exercised!  That’s really the best way to see if your plans actually work.  More is discussed about exercises in Module 6.  All of the exercises provided on our Training and Exercise page are specific exercises your facility can use to test your preparedness in several areas.
  • EVALUATE & IMPROVE: Exercising your plan should always include an evaluation after the exercise. The evaluation forms the basis for improving your plans.

            FEMA/ Sam Williams

It is important to recognize that ‘preparedness’ is not a static state.  Employees change, animals change, exhibits change, etc.  Plans should be frequently re-visited, at least once each year and updated as needed.   Explore the Fusion Center content to find training, exercises and information you need to prepare your facility!

Are you prepared?

For Foreign Animal Diseases?

Foreign Animal Diseases (FADs) are a group of disease agents that are of special concern to the agricultural and exotic animal industries.  The list of FADs recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) encompasses a wide variety of disease agents that affect invertebrates such as bees, mollusks, and crustaceans through avians and livestock species.  These animals are vital to food production, and therefore uncontrolled FADs threaten the world’s food supply.  FADs are also referred to as Transboundry Diseases, because outbreaks often involve resources and decision-making from multiple countries which may be impacted due to proximity to the outbreak, or because of agricultural trade restrictions that are often implemented. 

Even if an FMD outbreak occurs in only agricultural animals, exotic animal industry facilities will certainly be impacted.  The 2014-2015 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak that resulted in the depopulation of 50 million poultry birds, but many zoos and special collections with NO cases of disease spent considerable planning efforts into disease prevention.  It is highly recommended that each exotic animal facility work with their veterinarian to do some pre-planning with regards to FADs.  For more on FAD prevention, and special considerations of these diseases in the exotic animal industry, see the ZAHP Fusion Center’s “Secure Zoo” project

It is important for the exotic animal industry to recognize that an FMD response will require cooperation with State and Federal regulatory veterinarians and agencies.  Pre-planning with your State Veterinarian or other authorized Animal Health agency pre – disease is a ‘best practice’ that every facility should explore.


For Natural Disasters? 

A Natural Disaster is defined as a natural event, such as an earthquake, tornado, flood, or hurricane that causes great damage with a potential for loss of human and animal life.  Wildland fires, tsunamis, and droughts are also considered natural disasters; and by reviewing this list of incidents, one can quickly recognize that the likelihood of a specific type of natural disaster occurring is often dictated by where the exotic animal facility is located!  Virtually every spot in the world is at risk for some type of natural disaster.  Your job as an owner or operator is to assemble a team of planning partners to figure out what hazards may happen in your area, and to develop plans to mitigate the disaster when possible. 

Exotic animal industry owners and operators should recognize that to do the best possible planning, and to make sure your facility is integrated with planning efforts in your area, you MUST reach out to your local Emergency Management (EM) authority.  Your EM is your local expert in managing incidents, and it is through the EM that your needs may need to be communicated to State or Federal response partners. Ask your EM to join your planning team, and they can help you determine the risks for various natural disasters in your area.  They can also guide you on what capabilities your facility should have to respond on behalf of your collections.  This is a fundamental of “whole community planning”….your facility should be included in community plans too! Start by looking at your local municipal emergency management website.  Depending on where you are located, the best EM contact may be at a municipal or county level.