The Elephant Managers Association (EMA) is proud to announce the dates for our 44th annual conference, hosted by both the Fort Worth Zoo and Dallas Zoo on October 2 to 5, 2023. The conference will include a trip to both zoos, behind-the-scenes demonstrations at both facilities, two days packed with presentations, a banquet and silent auction, and a post-conference trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

EMA President Tripp Gorman stated, "EMA is very excited to have two incredible hosts collaborate and open their doors to elephant professionals from around the world. Delegates will get the opportunity to attend two premier elephant care facilities and learn from colleagues while experiencing Texan hospitality. We are planning a conference that will give everyone plenty of opportunities to discover and exchange new ideas."

Fort Worth Zoo features Elephant Springs, an award-winning habitat, that immerses guests into an Asian-themed fishing village. Lush landscapes and sparkling watering holes provide a continuously enriching experience for the Zoo's herd of Asian elephants. The multiple varied habitats allow for endless exploring and give the herd members opportunities to mix and mingle in ways that they would in the wild. The indoor habitat contains 11 stalls with substrate floors that are interconnected. This complex is equipped with indoor and outdoor training spaces that provide keepers with the ability to get up-close views and, in some cases, hands-on examinations of the animals. Fort Worth Zoo's Elephant Springs is dedicated to caring for a multigenerational herd, providing each member with all the creature comforts.

Dallas Zoo features Giants of the Savanna, another award-winning habitat exhibiting elephants and other large African species in expansive, naturalistic habitats. This project encompasses an 11-acre site, featuring two multi-species habitats for African elephants, giraffe, zebra, kudu, and ostrich—the first in the nation to mix elephants alongside these other species; a dry riverbed habitat for warthogs; and kopje habitats for African painted dogs and lions. The habitats were designed to encourage active and natural behaviors from the animals and provide many enrichment elements including three large swimming holes, three elephant activity stations, and a 40-foot-tall artificial fig tree feeder. The indoor habitat provides the African elephant herd with substrate stalls and training areas so they can participate in their own healthcare.

EMA partners with elephant programs that stand out as leaders in the elephant community to host the annual conference. The annual gathering promotes the cooperative exchange of information, open channels of communication, and meaningful networking opportunities for all elephant care professionals. Host facilities are chosen based on their commitment to elephants, their support of conservation and research efforts, their hospitality, and their demonstrated willingness to foster growth and development in all who work closely with elephants.

EMA's annual conference is the most accessible and affordable opportunity for elephant care professionals to expand their knowledge and professional network. Delegates will receive cutting edge information focusing on professional elephant management trends and will have the opportunity to see firsthand the methods employed by other established elephant programs.

With the help of EMA's Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, both of our conference hosts—Fort Worth Zoo and Dallas Zoo—will have the opportunity to showcase the features that make them premier elephant programs. Please save the dates and join us on October 2 to 5, 2023.

For all conference-related information, please keep an eye on this page, or you can contact the EMA Conference Committee at


All attendees must register online, and full conference registration for EMA members costs $200 (non-member registration costs $245). Late registration for members and non-members (after September 11) costs $275. Registration fees include transportation to/from hotel, and Dallas Zoo and Fort Worth Zoo; conference meals (including ice-breaker and banquet); and access to paper presentations.

To receive the discounted member rate, EMA members should be log in to the website using their membership credentials. When registering, the email address provided must match the email of your membership.

The post-conference trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center costs $50 (includes transportation to/from hotel and lunch).

The post-conference trip will be at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, TX. Fossil Rim is a wildlife park specializing in captive breeding programs for indigenous and exotic endangered and threatened species. A unique wildlife experience, Fossil Rim is home to species such as black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, Arabian oryx, dama gazelle, Grevy's zebra, Przewalski's horse, eastern mountain bongo, sable antelope, scimitar-horned oryx, maned wolf, and cheetah. Registration for the post-conference trip costs $50.

Can't make the whole EMA conference this year? No problem. Sign up for the days you can attend! Prices for individual components of the conference are:

Ice-breaker and Zoo Day at Dallas Zoo: $100

Paper Day 1 (October 3) at Fort Worth Zoo: $75

Paper Day 2 (October 4) at Fort Worth Zoo: $75

Zoo Day and Banquet at Fort Worth Zoo: $100


Conference shirt sales are now closed.

EMA will be celebrating the occasion with conference shirts. All shirts are long-sleeved and are available in sizes from X-Small to XXX-Large. Shirts are $30 each, and all shirts must be ordered by September 11.

Conference delegates are able to purchase a conference shirt alongside their registration.

If you are not attending the conference and would like a shirt, or if you'd like to order more shirts, please click here. When ordering, you will be able to designate whether you'd like someone to pick up the shirt for you at the conference (free) or you'd like the shirt shipped to your home ($10). 

To book your hotel accommodations at this year's conference venue (Hyatt Place Fort Worth/TCU), please click here. You may also call 1-888-492-8847 to make your reservations and use the group code G-TEMA to receive discounted rates.

The cut-off date for discounted rates was September 11, 2023. We cannot guarantee conference hotel availability at this point; please contact hotel directly for up-to-date information.

Your stay at at Hyatt Place Fort Worth/TCU will include:

  • Kickstart your morning with a complimentary breakfast, which includes three freshly prepared hot items, assorted cereals, breakfast breads, fresh fruits, chilled juices, and freshly brewed coffee.
  • Enjoy your home away from home in one of the spacious guestrooms complete with Large L-Shape Queen Size Sofa Sleepers in every room, Exclusive Hyatt Luxury Pillowtop Mattress, and swiveling HDTV to stay entertained from every corner of the room. Each room also include an in-room safe, mini fridge, hair dryer, iron, and ironing board.
  • After your cardio workout in the 24-hour fitness center, take a dip in the outdoor pool complete with tanning ledge!
  • End your evening by heading up to the Lot 12 Rooftop Bar, which showcases stunning views of Downtown Fort Worth and TCU Campus, elevated bar cuisine, extensive TCU-inspired drinks, 2,500 square feet of interior space, 6,000 square feet of exterior space, and Topgolf Swing Suites, where leisure meets play.

The EMA Conference Committee is currently seeking donations to offset the costs of the 44th Annual EMA Conference. All contributors will be recognized throughout the conference during our program and throughout signage. This is a wonderful opportunity to show your support for both elephants and elephant professionals. To learn more about how you or your organization can help donate to the 2023 EMA Conference, please view the 44th Annual EMA Conference Sponsorship Letter.

At this year's conference, we will have two keynote speakers: Martin Van Wees and Jeroen Kappelhof. These keynotes are sponsored by Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Martin Van Wees is current collection manager at Pairi Daiza in Belgium, and he is advisor for both Casablance Zoo in Maroc and Dierenpark Zie-Zoo in the Netherlands. Martin started in the field at the Rotterdam Zoo in 1968 until 2018. He filled many roles during this time, including keeper, head-keeper, supervisor of the Asian-continent area, and curator of this collection. In 2018, he retired from the Rotterdam Zoo. During his career, he was also the regional European studbook keeper for tree-kangaroos, red pandas, and Asian elephants. In fact, Martin is credited as a co-author initiating the first regional studbook for Asian elephants in 1989 for European elephant facilities. After 2018, Martin was appointed to lead the European Elephant Population Committee (EEP) and is still on this committee today.

Jeroen Kappelhof is currently research officer at Rotterdam Zoo and PhD candidate at Wageningen University & Research (the Netherlands). His studies focus on the genetic health of Asian elephants in the wild and European zoos. Jeroen also serves as the co-coordinator of the EAZA Ex situ Program (EEP) for Asian elephants and is member of the EAZA Elephant TAG.

Each year during the annual conference, the host facility gathers items for a silent auction. The silent auction is held during the conference's banquet night. All proceeds form the silent auction help fund our annual scholarship awards. We are currently gathering elephant books, art, clothing, and collectibles. Even if you are not able to attend the 2023 EMA Conference, you can still donate your items. We encourage all donors to donate items via mail before the conference. All donations must be submitted with a donation form and shipped to the address indicated on the form. To donate, please complete the EMA Silent Auction Donation Form, and print and send with your items to the address listed on the form.

The first ever BREW Off, or Beer Representing Elephants Worldwide, was held at last year's EMA Conference hosted by the Milwaukee County Zoo. It was so much fun, we are doing it again!

How do you get in on the action? It's easy. Work with a local brewery to develop a special, seasonal brew to benefit elephants. (If they don't do seasonal brews, you can ask them to designate the proceeds from an existing beer to elephants for a limited time.) Bring a 12-pack of that brew to the 2023 EMA Conference, and you are set. You can coordinate a launch event and celebrate your work locally. These events are elephantastic!

Make sure to save at least a 12-pack of your elephant-brew and bring it to the EMA Conference in Dallas/Fort Worth in October, where we will hold an epic tasting competition. You and your brew will compete for Best Brew, Best Brew People's Choice, Best Label Design, and more! Winners of the BREW Off tasting event will receive a trophy and the epic bragging rights! This year, there's an additional prize: $500 Gift Certificate to the IEF Store. The person or team who raises the most for their brewery fundraiser will win the grand prize!

For more information on how to put together your fundraiser and participate in the EMA x IEF BREW Off, contact Christine DelTurco or Sarah Conley. For more information, please visit

The Elephant Managers Association (EMA) is an international, 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization.

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