Spreading zoo animal diseases: Has Al Ain Zoo developed an effective program to deal with the threat?

Fatma Mohammed Al Badi (Management Department, Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Syed Zamberi Ahmad (Management Department, College of Business, Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 5 October 2019

Abstract

Subject Area

Strategic management, operation management, health and safety

Study Level/Applicability

The authors have been developed the case to be applied for a diploma, undergraduate students and it might help the students in the postgraduate. The case is appropriate for courses in the area of strategic management, operation management and health and safety.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are as follows: to understand the importance of animal disease prevention and the correct procedures for dealing with disease outbreaks in an animal facility; to reinforce the importance of adherence to strict procedures and chain of command by Life Sciences and Conservation sections in preserving the health of animals, zoo staff and visitors; to recognize the importance of disease monitoring and control in wildlife conservation; and to understand the importance of concrete experience in related positions to provide leaders like Director Mark Craig with the skills to handle such a big responsibility. Al Ain Zoo has such leaders along with a dedicated and resourceful management team that has proven capable of placing the institution among the best conservation parks in the world.

Case overview/synopsis

Large collections of animals of diverse species found in zoos and animal parks present a considerable challenge to facility managers in developing and implementing programs to prevent and control the spread of animal diseases. One need to only think about the nightmare consequences of an illness that could decimate a population of animals in a public setting such as a zoo and, in a worst-case scenario, spread to staff, visitors and even the public at large. Biologists have clearly shown how certain types of animals can act as reservoirs for disease viruses, for example, chimpanzees harboring the simian immunodeficiency virus that mutated to HIV or chickens and ducks spreading avian influenza virus to poultry workers and then to the public. Thus, disease control in zoos is an issue of the utmost importance, and managers and operators neglect it at their peril. The reputation and indeed the very existence of an animal park rests in the hands of a dedicated group of managers, veterinarians and technical staff, as well as zoo workers who must strictly follow procedures to prevent and contain animal-borne diseases. This case study focuses on the work of one man in a large internationally known facility to develop, implement, test and evaluate an innovative program for animal disease control. So, what would you do if you were the director of a large metropolitan zoo and your staff veterinarian came to you and said that there was an outbreak of a serious viral disease among a group of animals? Could you have prevented the disease? How will you treat the sick animals and stop the disease from spreading? Is there a risk of the zoo staff contracting the disease from handling sick animals? What about zoo visitors? These are all questions that are addressed in this new and intriguing case study focused on managing animal diseases in the setting of a zoo or wildlife park. Mark Craig, Director of Life Sciences at the Al Ain Zoo in the United Arab Emirates, has plenty to say about the planning, science and management skills necessary to insure that a large population of diverse wild animals remains healthy and thriving. The Al Ain Zoo is the largest of its kind in the Middle East, and while he has been in charge of the animal welfare program for more than six years, there have been few incidents of disease and all have been contained. What can be learned from his effective strategies and leadership skills is clearly discussed and illustrated in this unique real-world case study.

Complexity academic level

The authors have developed the case to be applied for a diploma, undergraduate students and it might help the students in the postgraduate. The case is appropriate for courses in the area of strategic management, operation management and health and safety.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available upon request for educators only. These teaching notes should be shared solely with the instructor and students should not have access to. Please contact your library to gain login or email support@emeraldinsight.com to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 11: Strategy.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their special thanks of gratitude and deepest appreciation to Mr Mark Craig, the Acting Chief Operating Officer and the Director of Life Science in Al Ain Zoo, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates who fully cooperate and assist in writing down this case study, without his support, collaboration and involvement, this case will not be finalized. His cooperation assisted us in this case study and providing us with the necessary documentations that needed to carry this case study titled “Spreading Zoo Animal Diseases: Has Al Ain Zoo Developed an Effective Program to Deal with the Threat?“.

Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names, financial and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.

Citation

Al Badi, F.M. and Ahmad, S.Z. (2019), "Spreading zoo animal diseases: Has Al Ain Zoo developed an effective program to deal with the threat?", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 9 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/EEMCS-08-2018-0181

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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