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BIAZA Annual General Meeting

Another fantastic BIAZA conference!

As proud Corporate Members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), we are fortunate enough to attend a number of meetings and talks the body organizes, climaxing in the Annual General Meeting. This year the event was held at Drayton Manor Theme Park, a popular British attraction known for its zoo enclosures as well as its family friendly rides and attractions.

Over the course of the conference we were fortunate enough to meet with conservation experts, education managers and, perhaps most importantly, keepers. The theme for this years’ conference was “Fun” and how to incorporate learning into a necessary package for the modern visitor. Seminars were presented by industry leaders in fields including attraction management, conservation, sustainability and animal welfare with the common theme being how to combine all of these factors in a meaningful way.

While conservation and the wider environment is hugely important to all of us at Fordingbridge, it is humbling to see the lengths the BIAZA members will go t for the greater good of wildlife, not just those animals in their direct care, but on a global scale. While there is naturally a small element of competition between the zoos, with the Award Ceremony taking place on the final day during the Gala Dinner, the air is genuinely one of collaboration, with each member applauding and cheering the efforts of their peers, in the knowledge that every new innovation, successful breeding program or conservation effort is a step closer to achieving their mutual goal.

The general atmosphere throughout the event was inspiring. Everyone attending was truly passionate about what they do; an ethos which brings out the best for not only the animal welfare and guest experience but also the attractions as businesses.  As with any business, one of the key elements of success is the involvement of people who believe in what they do. Those who will strive to do the best in their role, increasing opportunities for the public to share in their own passions.

The involvement of the corporate members is more through sponsorship opportunities, therefore helping this fantastic association to function with monetary funding, but we like to take the role a step further. Fordingbridge are fortunate enough that we work within a number of sectors. Education, healthcare, horticulture, commercial, public services; our reach and history is broad. Equally so is our acknowledgment of our corporate responsibility. With our headquarters at the foot of the South Downs National Park, near the coast just outside of Arundel, all of the team have a genuine affinity with the environment and its preservation. We relish the opportunity to do what we can within our role as a construction specialist to raise awareness, support campaigns and generally do what we can to aid the environment. With our background in sustainable engineering and a back catalogue of projects including the Greenpower education building, carbon neutral installations and an energy NET ZERO retail site, we use our innovation to create spaces that are not just visually stimulating and practical but also ethical.

We are of course a commercial business, so should an attraction wish to discuss a construction project while we attend, naturally we would not refuse. However from a personal level, it is just fantastic for all of our team to work with BIAZA members in this field and to support their work in any way we can. The fact we can later visit a zoo or aquarium with family or friends as a guest and enjoy the facilities we have designed and installed is an added bonus. To put it in perspective, while we are industry leaders in healthcare canopies and we appreciate the work of NHS professionals and the important part our canopy installations play in staff and patient welfare, visiting one of our ambulance bay canopies as a guest does not quite hold the same appeal as a day out at the zoo…

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