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How are you?
Understanding the Joys and Sorrows of Caring for Animals

"How are you? Most of the time I am well, and caring for myself is about establishing healthy boundaries and small steps everyday. How about you?" - Sabrina Brando -

In 1992 Sabrina Brando started her work with animals. As recent dropout from school she worked with rays, walruses, and sealions, then moving on to working in other zoos and aquariums. Being interested in the psychological and emotional wellbeing of animals she decided in 2001 to study psychology with the application to exotic wildlife and continued working on animal wellbeing since, now in the process of completing a
PhD in animal and human wellbeing and its interconnectedness. Little did she knew then that her work today would focus on the wellbeing of humans who care for animals. With many sad, angry, joyful and beautiful experiences, and many highs and lows in an almost 30-year career caring for animals, it is a delight to be dedicated to caring for animals and the people who work for them.

Whether you provide care for wild animals in zoos, aquariums, wildlife centres and sanctuaries, we feel an emotional connection, a duty of care towards them, and want to make the animals happy. Since 2013 she has organised and collaborated on seminars in which the importance of wellbeing of people who care for and work with animals.

Animal caregivers, curators, veterinarians, researchers, and other animal welfare staff (henceforth animal care professionals), often have high levels of compassion, empathy, and drive to care for others and effect change. Caring for and serving others gives a sense of joy and achievement, creating compassion satisfaction. Recruitment of and access to social support, working in an effective team, supervising and directing positive outcomes, gaining professional experience, and using self-care strategies promote compassion satisfaction.

Yet, these positive experiences often are combined with painful ethical dilemmas, where optimal solutions are not feasible, and decisions must be from among a variety of sub-optimal alternatives; this creates moral stress. Repeated exposure to distressing events such as neglect, inaction, and animal euthanasia, can leave zoo professionals at risk of compassion fatigue or burnout. Common symptoms of compassion fatigue can include feeling mentally and physically tired, with sadness and apathy, bottled-up emotions, and an inability to get pleasure from activities that previously were enjoyable, as well as a lack of self-care. These serious problems have been well-documented among workers in settings such as veterinary practice, laboratory animal care facilities, and animal shelters, but they have scarcely been addressed in wild animal care environments.

AnimalConcepts offers webinars, coaching, and courses on compassion awareness, including on compassion awareness: compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction, and resiliency skills. Together they will help you to take care of yourself and your wellbeing. Based on science and practice these courses and activities help you - and your staff if you are responsible for a team/organisation, to continue to serve animals and people with compassion, integrity, and joy.
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Survey on Human and Animal Wellness in Environments such as Zoos, Aquariums, and Sanctuaries

Professor Lynette Hart and Sabrina Brando, are collaborating to further understand "Human and Animal Wellness in Environments such as Zoos, Aquariums, and Sanctuaries".

This survey is now closed and a paper in the process of being submitted for review.

We will updates on this project on this page and via our NEWSLETTER. Big thank you to those who helped us with feedback in the initial stages of development!
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Compassion Awareness

Sabrina Brando is a psychologist who is specialised in the human-animal interaction. She graduated BSc. In Psychology in 2011 and an MSc. in Animal Studies in 2016.

She is currently pursuing her PhD with the University of Stirling in Scotland, including the sorrows and joys of caring for animals and human wellbeing.

Sabrina became a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator in May 2020 and continues to be enrolled in different courses and modules to expand her knowledge in human psychology and social sciences, how to deal with grief and loss, and psychological first aid.
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Compassion Fatigue Strategies

Sabrina completed an online certificate on Compassion Fatigue Strategies, this course was taught by Jessica Dolce, a wonderful and engaging educator, who combines science and laughter to engage animal care practitioners to better understand compassion fatigue and strategies for self-care, healthy boundaries and communications.
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