It’s a Wrap!! 11th OVAG Workshop 2019

By Siska Sulistyo

17 September 2019 |Updated: 17 September 2019

“(OVAG has a) friendly and non-judgmental atmosphere, encouraging all attendees to participate without fear of criticism -there is no stupid question! “

“(From OVAG, I) learn to make responsible actions based on well-thought reasons"

“Kebersamaan antara pemateri, partisipan, dan panitia”

 (Some quotes from the best thing feedback forms)


So, the OVAG 11th Workshop 2019 has just finished (28 July – 1 August 2019). After months of hard work selecting topics for the workshop, contacting potential speakers, inviting all the participants, and organizing logistics to the very details, we are proud to say that the workshop was once more a huge success.

A total number of 92 participants attended the event, making this year’s workshop the biggest we have ever organized. We have had delegates literally from all over the world, stretching from Europe, Northern America, Southern America, Africa, Australia, and 5 countries within Asia.

The participants were so big and so varied that we had to arrange parallel sessions in order to cater for everyone’s different interests and backgrounds (but all still related to orangutan health and conservation). We had a separate meeting for orangutan center managers, facilitated by Forum Orangutan Indonesia (FORINA); another separate meeting for the group of vets and managers from gibbon centers, facilitated by the IUCN SSP Section on Small Apes; and the main group of orangutan vets and professionals.

This year, once again we chose Yogyakarta as our city venue, where our host-collaborator, i.e. the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universitas Gadjah Mada, is based. We also collaborated with a local rescue centre, the Jogja Wildlife Rescue Centre where we were able to hold a practical day of general examination for several orangutans and gibbons housed in their facility. This practical session proven to be everyone’s favorite, thanks to the technology of live video-streaming during the session. In this way, the procedure  was done effectively with few vets, while keeping the larger group involved and being able to discuss the procedures in real time.

Besides the practical session, our workshop this year covered a great variety of topics. We, as the steering committee, were very excited in organizing this, and thankfully it was well received by the participants. We talked about disaster preparedness in wildlife facilities, improving diet and nutrition management in orangutan centers, vets’ role in organizations, mental health, scientific writing (peer-review process), anesthesia and intensive care, and basics of primate wildlife forensics. Within the managers meeting, they discussed the new Indonesian Orangutan National Action Plan 2019-2029, while the gibbon group discussed medical cases and general gibbon conservation/husbandry issues.

As always, we asked participants to take a pre-and post- workshop quiz, in order to evaluate our programs effectiveness as well as a way to keep track of participants’ understanding of the materials presented. We also provide a feedback form at the end of the workshop. Seventy feedback forms were retrieved, and on average we have 62% participants strongly agree that the workshop is a positive experience (based on new and useful knowledge gained, applicability of knowledge gained, and effect of results on improving professional capacity as well as improving animal care), 34% agree that the workshop is a positive experience, and 4% felt neutral. No negative score was given by any participant.

Feedback on Best Things:

Most of the participants noted that networking is the best thing that they take home from OVAG. Indeed, the atmosphere of the workshop is always a friendly one. We are open to each other, respect each other and we genuinely think that all of us are working together towards the same goals: to protect this amazing species.

OVAG is also acknowledged as the best platform for (for learning new things or for adding to our knowledge) and upgrading professional skills. This year, the OVAG workshop was worth 7.5 CPD (Continuing Professional Development) credit point, granted by the Indonesian Veterinary Advisory Group (IVMA).

Other great things mentioned by participants about OVAG were (among others):

-          The Great variety of topics

-          Ther Encourage towards critical thinking

-          The Consistent and continuous training

-          The Qualified speakers.

The favorite session in this year’s workshop was the practicum on general examination on orangutans and gibbons at Jogja WRC. The next favorites were mental health session and nutrition.

Feedback on Things to Improve:

Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Time management is one thing that is mentioned by most participants. Overall, this year’s workshop was a very dense one. There were several major topics covered, case study presentations, games, practical sessions, and parallel meetings all crammed in 5 full days. Some lectures and discussions went further that the time allocated, but it was all worth it.

Other things that were asked by the participants are more practical sessions (this is always everyone’s request every year), more discussion time, more games/role play/outdoor activities, distribution of workshop materials, tiered lectures (e.g. basic and advance), and a way to manage language barrier (most of the workshop is delivered in English, while the audience has varied proficiency in English).

The committee will continue to work hard to improve our workshops in the coming years. As a start, we have uploaded all workshop materials on this website (use the keyword “2019” to search in here). For next year, we are aiming to focus on fewer topics (in the hope that the depth will be increased), and dedicate an additional 2-3 days for an intensive anesthesia workshop for several selected vet participants. As there’s a concern about too many delegates this year, we also aim to limit our workshop attendance next year to maximum 60 people, in order to keep the learning process an effective one for everyone.

Feedback: How will I use the information I have gained

The majority of participants promised that they will implement what they have learnt in their home institutions. Many are also planning to share the knowledge through presentations and discussions with their colleagues, in the hope of improving their managements and protocols to a higher standard. These tie well with OVAG’s mission in making a significant impact in wildlife conservation.

Other ideas that were mentioned by participants about how they will use the information gained were:

-          Improve management of diet, enclosure design, behavior observation, and animal welfare in general

-          Support the vets more within their work

-          Explore possibilities of new treatment and protocols,

-          Explore ideas for research topics and study areas.

-          Use materials to teach/give lecture


Overall, we at the OVAG Committee are very grateful to all colleagues who have spared their time to attend this workshop. We genuinely hope that this has been a good experience for all, strengthening and expanding our friendship, and of course helping us to do better in our work.



*To get access to our workshop materials, register for free on this website! If you don’t hear from us in a week or so, please kindly contact