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The story of SHAPE―Regionals



    SHAPE―Regionals have come a long way in a short time and SHAPE―South and East Europe (SHAPE―SEE) is the latest exciting chapter in the story. It all started in 2005 at the 7th International Conference on Environmental Enrichment (ICEE) which was being hosted by the Wildlife Conservation service in New York. Ourselves and other delegates were discussing the fact that there were not many overseas (non-American) delegates at the meeting, with less than 20 delegates representing Europe (almost half of these came from Paignton Zoo!). The reason for this is mainly due to the cost of International travel and that ICEE meetings are held on different continents each time so it is a long time before they return to any given continent and we felt that the enthusiasm and impetus created at each conference was being lost.

    As a result, we came up with the idea to organise conferences to be held in different regionals around the world in the years between the ICEE meetings. This would allow more people to attend an enrichment conference, fill the space between conferences, and hopefully maintain everyone’s enthusiasm and motivation for enrichment. We named these meetings Regional Environmental Enrichment Conferences (REEC’s) and it was hoped that not only would they continue an areas interest in Environmental Enrichment but was also encourage people to attend and even present at future ICEE’s. So we quickly set up a United Kingdom & Ireland REEC, which was soon followed by committees in South Africa and Australia. The first UK & Ireland REEC meeting was held at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in 2006.

    As the main idea behind the REEC’s was to promote and support the Shape of Enrichment (SoE) and the ICEE’s, it soon became clear that this could be done more effectively from within the organisation so REEC and SoE duly merged and REEC became known as SHAPE―Regional, with each of the regions being know as SHAPE―then there region name, such as SHAPE―UK & Ireland or SHAPE―South & East Europe.

    Currently we have Regionals all around the world; UK & Ireland, Australasia, South Africa, Brazil, and Regionals are being set up in Sweden, South East Asia, North America, South America and hopefully we will also be able to include France, Germany and China in that list as well.

    The important thing to remember is that not all of the regions will be holding conferences but there are lots of other things that can be done. One of the main tasks is translating the information that has already been published on enrichment, to make sure that everyone has the chance to access it. There are numerous papers and publications covering the subject, but because there is a relatively small audience it is often only published in English. Regionals can also set up chat groups and forums over the internet so that animal keepers from within the regions can contact each other to ask advice on enrichment and share their knowledge. You will be surprised how much you all already know!

    We really hope that everyone will support the SHAPE―South & East Europe committee as they set up this venture. It will require a lot of hard work on their behalf but they will need help from all of you as well. Everyone on the Shape-Regional committee wishes them the very best of luck and support.

Julian Chapman,
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park,
Senior Head Keeper of Mammals.

Holly Farmer,
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park,
Zoo Research Assistant.

Valerie Hare,
Shape of Enrichment.


    
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