This weekend Northern Ireland’s capital city is playing host to 700 zoo professionals from 44 countries, delegates at the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) conference at Belfast Waterfront.
Regarded as the biggest annual gathering of the European zoo and aquarium community, the four-day conference kicks off today (23 September) with a programme focused on promoting biodiversity and wildlife conservation.
Dr Thomas Kauffels, the chair of European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), noted it was the first time the annual conference had come to Belfast. “Belfast Zoo and the city have designed a 4-day programme guaranteed to excite, engage and enable us to explore the region’s rich culture as well as the local ecosystems.”
Dr Kauffels praised the venue’s city centre location and convenience to the region’s two airports which meant members were able to fly in and go straight to meetings.
The conference is exactly the kind of event the recently completed £29.5m extension to Belfast Waterfront funded by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund, through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland, was designed for.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston, opened the conference, welcoming EAZA delegates to the city.
Belfast Zoo curator, Andrew Hope, added: “We first bid for the conference, along with Visit Belfast and ‘Conference Partners’ a number of years ago. It recognises the excellent work that Belfast Zoo does as well as showcase Belfast as a city and conference destination.”
Image caption: Laurie Scott (director of business development at Visit Belfast), Myfanwy Griffith (EAZA executive director), Alderman Brian Kingston (The Lord Mayor of Belfast), Dr Thomas Kauffels (chair of European Association of Zoos and Aquariums), Andrew Hope (Belfast Zoo Curator) and Catherine Toolan (MD of Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall).