By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Kirkpatrick Foundation will host the first ANIMAL Conference, a two day “Forum of Ideas, Impact and Inspiration,” on Monday and Tuesday, March 30-31, at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, 1 Park Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City.
The event will bring together experts in science, journalism, research, and sustainability to convene and discuss current and future trends affecting animals.
“Our vision for The ANIMAL Conference is to convene those who are professionally or personally part of the animal wellbeing and leadership community to discuss current topics and concerns, including community wellness,” says Louisa McCune, executive director of the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
In 2012, Kirkpatrick Foundation started the Safe & Humane initiative. Their goal was to make Oklahoma one of the safest and most humane places to be an animal by 2032.
The conference, a key element in achieving that objective, will be held once every three years.
The mission of the conference to inspire attendees to become compassionate advocates for animals and to make positive changes for animals and the communities in which they live.
“We believe that the conference—a festival, really—and our Safe & Humane initiative will educate and inspire Oklahomans to translate their love for animals into positive action and compassion toward animals and other humans,” says McCune.
“We also believe that this type of action can create amazing change in individual lives as well as the community in which we live,” she added.
Featured speakers for the conference include Vint Virga, DVM: Author, The Soul of All Living Creatures: Charles Siebert: Journalist, New York Times: and Jonathan Balcombe: Director, Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy.
Other featured speakers include Tim Harrison: Public Safety Office, featured in The Elephant in the Living Room; Dr. Aysha Akhtar: Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the Food and Drug Administration; Diana Webster, president of the Native American Humane Society; and Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer.
Lee Fairchild, Director of the Friends For Folks’ program with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will exhibit his world-champion disc dog demonstration at the Myriad Gardens.
The Cat Café and Pop-Up Bookstore, hosted by Full Circle, will feature adoptable felines and coffee drinks.
The speakers and discussions will inspire improved quality of life for animals including companion, wildlife, farm animals, and exotics.
The event will offer a thought-leadership forum about animal behavior and recent discoveries about the animal brain.
Groups will work to create strategies for improved animal treatment in industries and communities and build awareness of the value of animals in service, therapy, and rehabilitation.
“We’ve made the promise to make Oklahoma a safer place for animals in the next 20 years,” said Kirkpatrick Foundation Chairman Christian Keesee. “The ANIMAL Conference is the next key part of that initiative in bringing people together from around the world to share ideas about how to make Oklahoma a safer place.”
Conference participants will include opinion leaders, policymakers, community advocates and leaders, social workers and government officials including legislators and city councilors as well as veterinarians, corporate representatives as well as students and retirees.
Organizers say that anyone who cares about animals and the people who love and care for them should attend the event.
Founded in 1955 by John and Eleanor Kirkpatrick, the Kirkpatrick Foundation offers grants in the areas of arts, culture, education, animal well being, environmental conservation, and historic preservation.
To register, click here. Deadline for the hotel conference rate ($159) is February 27. For registration, contact Factor 110 at 405-604-0041. Deadline for registration is March 20.
“Downtown Oklahoma city is going to be overtaken by animals and people who care about animals,” McCune added. “And if you do, this is the place to be.”
For more information, visit theanimalconference.com or call the Kirkpatrick Foundation at 405-608-0934.