This year’s Enrichment Extravaganza had something for everyone. The chatter started over breakfast and grew louder and more excited with each presentation. People were enjoying themselves and were happy to spend time with colleagues who share their passion for the animals in their care. Best of all, everyone had something to contribute.
Contrast the good energy at the EE with the negative voices raised by the few uncaring protestors, who assembled outside the Convention Center. They were rallying “against the unspeakable horrors of the vivisection industry” at the Enrichment Extravaganza, which they described as a “perverted convention.” Their harsh words and meager turnout had no real impact and did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm. If anything, their ignorance is a sad reminder of how much educating remains to be done.
Inside, we were learning from one another. Everyone looked for tips to convey the importance of environmental enrichment to investigators who worry about the effect on their data and management concerned with rising costs. Outside, protestors looked for signs of rain and worried about protecting their hand-made signs from the elements.
There were no sticks and stones; only nasty names being thrown about. In the end, the protest didn’t hurt, but it sure didn’t help either.