Flu at the zoo: Emergency management training for the nation's zoos and aquariums

Yvette Joyce Johnson, Yvonne Nadler, Eugene Field, Maung San Myint, Marilyn Sue O'hara-Ruiz, Anna Ruman, Steve Olson, John Arthur Herrmann, Johanna Briscoe, Marisa Hickey, James Kunkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The movement of people and animals within zoos and aquariums poses a risk of zoonotic disease dissemination within human and animal populations. Flu at the Zoo is a table-top exercise designed to provide animal exhibitors and regulatory agency personnel an opportunity to evaluate their outbreak response plans. Developed for zoos and aquariums in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, it created a realistic scenario of an avian influenza disease outbreak. A total of 82 participants attended the exercise held in June of 2012. Representatives from each of the 16 accredited zoos and aquariums in the region attended, along with representatives from the public health, agricultural animal health, wildlife, poultry industry, and emergency management sectors. Recommendations for the participants included the need for increased training opportunities for zoo and aquarium personnel on the Incident Command System and National Incident Management System. It was also recommended that communications be enhanced between zoos and aquariums and the local, state, and federal agency first responder personnel. Suggestions for improving the exercise included: providing the situation manual to players in advance of the exercise and creating discussion groups based on jurisdictional boundaries so that legal authorities and policy differences across state boundaries didn't impede the discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-435
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • aquarium
  • avian influenza
  • captive wildlife
  • emergency management
  • outbreak response
  • zoo
  • zoonotic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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