Transforming the Human Dimensions of Zoos & Aquariums

June 4 - 6, 2024
Columbia, South Carolina

Hosted By:

riverbanks zoo and garden Columbia south carolina logo

What is Echo?

echo 23 attendees in a group shot

ECHO is a small, annual gathering hosted by the Zoo + Aquarium Division of TESSERE. Previous hosts have included Sedgwick County Zoo (twice!), The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Akron Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, and Birmingham Zoo. Its 7th year will be held at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC.

ECHO exists because Zoos and Aquariums have unparalleled potential to captivate, fascinate, and empower future conservationists. To do so in an ever-complicated world, leaders must constantly reach for new and innovative ways to effectively deliver on their organization’s missions. Unlike many other industry conferences, ECHO provides space to explore challenges and opportunities through the lens of non-zoological experts.

Limited to 30 zoo & aquarium leaders, conversations are deep & connections meaningful. By crafting collisions between provocative ideas and courageous, creative people combined with candid dialogue, ECHO advances a vision for a revolutionary future of Zoos and Aquariums.

ECHO24 Theme: Transforming the Human Dimensions of Zoos & Aquariums

Just as exhibit design and animal wellbeing strategies evolve in our zoos and aquariums, so must our approach to the human experience, authentically engaging staff and guests and convening local and global communities.  At ECHO24, join us in learning from brilliant thinkers who have embraced the complex and dynamic relationship between their roles, organizations, and the human dimension.

In the video below, Jesse Daniel, Zoo & Aquarium Division Project Coordinator, introduces ECHO24 and this year’s theme:

Tommy Stringfellow, President & CEO of Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, Invites You to Columbia, South Carolina

What Attendees Are Saying

group of zoo leaders at echo 2023



Jared on the Bananland van

Jared Orton

President, Savannah Bananas

Darren Ross

Founder & CEO of Service Freak

Mike Clifford

Strategy Director / Director of Special Projects
Reverse the Red/TESSERE

Ryan Tate

VETPAW (Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife)

Bill Stangler

Congaree Riverkeeper

Hermina Glass-Hill, MHP

Historian & Eco-Womanist

Schedule at a Glance

Tuesday, June 4

Attendees Travel to Columbia, SC

5:30 pm

Welcome Dinner &
Columbia Fireflies Game at Segra Park


Times subject to change.

Wednesday, June 5

8:00 am

Breakfast at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

9:00 am

Zoo Tours & Encounters

10:00 am

Keynote Thought Partners: Jared Orton, Savannah Bananas & Darren Ross, Service Freak
Presented in partnership with SSA Group

12:30 pm


1:15 pm

Zoo Experiences + Tours

2:00 pm

Fans First Workshop Continued

4:00 pm

Wrap-Up & Return to Hotel

5:00 pm

Happy Hour at The Cambria Sponsored by Colossal Biosciences

6:00 pm

Escape Escapology

7:30 pm

Dinner at Savage Craft Ale Works


Times subject to change.

Thursday, June 6

8:00 am

Breakfast at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

9:15 am

Guest Experience Tours with SSA Group

10:30 am

Innovation Session: Conversations that Shape Tomorrow: The Transformative Power of Dialogue with Ryan Tate, Founder and President of VETPAW

11:30 am

Innovation Session:"Until the Lions Have Their Own Storytellers, Tales of the Hunt Will Always Glorify the Hunter" (African Proverb) with Hermina Glass-Hill

12:30 pm


1:15 pm

Zoo Tours & Encounters

2:00 pm

Innovation Session: Legal Levers: Influencing at Scale with Bill Stangler, Congaree Riverkeeper

3:00 pm

Innovation Session: Parallel Dimensions: Charting a Future with Purpose with Mike Clifford, Strategy Director, Reverse the Red

4:30 pm

Final Thoughts & Wrap-Up

5:00 pm

Attendee Choice: Remain at Zoo or Siesta at Hotel

6:00 pm

Reception on the Saluda River footbridge

6:45 pm

Cocktails and Dinner in the Botanical Garden


Times subject to change.


attendees at Echo 23 sharing ideas and laughing

ECHO24 is an All-Inclusive Experience

Your $1,495 Registration Fee Includes:

  • Programming: 2 days and 3 nights of workshops, presentations, and networking
  • Travel: Roundtrip airfare* or mileage/car rental reimbursement
  • Transportation: Event-related ground transportation
  • Lodging: Hotel room for 3 nights
  • Dining: Event-related food & beverage

Attendance at ECHO is by invitation only, and our curated guest list includes executive-level leaders from zoos and aquariums. If you are not yet on our guest list and would like to be considered, please email

ECHO is a high-energy, deep-thinking, and intimate gathering, and as such, seats are limited.  While multiple leaders from each organization may receive an invitation, attendance is limited to one person per organization.  That said, we recognize there is value in shared experience, so let’s chat if your organization is interested in sending an additional representative.

*Applies to continental flights.

Travel information

echo attendees riding a carousel

Travel to ECHO24 is easy! Let us help with arrangements. Registration includes:

  • Travel: Roundtrip airfare* or mileage/car rental reimbursement.
  • Event-related ground transportation
  • Hotel room for 3 nights

*Applies to continental flights.

Cambria Hotel Columbia Downtown The Vista

ECHO24 Conference Hotel

Cambria Hotel Columbia Downtown The Vista

1000 Lady Street, Columbia, SC 29201

View Hotel

columbia cambria hotel bar

Flying to ECHO24

We have partnered with Ken Brodbeck of Prairie Travel to coordinate air travel. Upon registration, Ken will contact attendees to make arrangements.

  • Travelers will fly in and out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
  • Arriving flights Tuesday, June 4 will be scheduled for the morning & arrive before 4:00 pm. Departing flights will be scheduled for Friday, June 7.
  • Airline tickets will be issued in economy class on the most convenient and cost-effective routes.
  • Any changes or cancellations after tickets have been issued will be subject to penalties, which will be the sole responsibility of the traveler.
  • Baggage fees, seat upgrades, and other extras will be the responsibility of travelers, but can be arranged with Mr. Brodbeck.
  • GLMV will provide transportation to and from the airport.

Driving to ECHO24

Those intending to drive to ECHO24 are responsible for securing their own transportation and should arrive at the conference hotel by 4:00 pm Tuesday, June 4. We will reimburse the roundtrip cost of a rental car, fuel, and parking. If the roundtrip mileage is under 300 miles, attendees may drive their personal vehicles and be reimbursed at the current IRS mileage rate (2024: $0.655/mile). Drivers must submit receipts to receive reimbursement.

To offset the climate impact of travel to ECHO24, Tessere has made a donation to the American Forest Foundation’s Family Forest Carbon Program.  Learn more about their mission and programs here.





Photos from ECHO23

Recaps from Past ECHO Events

echo 23 book cover

Echo 23 Recap

echo 22 cover

Echo 2022 Recap

Echo 2019 Recap

Echo 2018 Recap