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We envision a world where all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places.

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About the Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Leaders in Animal Care, Conservation, and Family Fun

AZA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. AZA represents more than 200 institutions which meet the highest standards in animal care, provide a fun and educational family experience, and dedicate millions of dollars to scientific research, conservation, and education programs.

About AZA
We're changing lives

Our Collective Impact

215 accredited facilities in 47 US states, plus 15 in 8 other countries

Population planning for 500 species for the next 100 years.

Approximately 750,000 animals in the care of AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium professionals.

Approx 6,000 different species in AZA-accredited facilities.

1,000 threatened or endangered species in AZA-accredited zoos & aquariums

More than 450 Species Survival Plan® Programs under 46 Taxon Advisory Groups

12 million student learners per year on field trips

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide around 176,000 jobs in the US.

AZA-accredited facilities serve more than 183 million visitors each year.

Our Mission

AZA-accredited facilities spend $160 million a year in support of conservation projects.

Membership makes a difference.

“In any business, you want to be the best at what you do in your field.  Being an AZA member places me and the institution I work for in the top category for zoos & aquariums.”

About Membership

The mission of SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction is to combine the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA members and partners to save animals from extinction.

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African penguin

Asian Elephant


Black Rhinoceros



Sea Turtle



Western Pond Turtle

Whooping Crane

february 2017 

Longtime SSP Leaders Look to the Future of Their Programs

In 2000, Jennifer Mickelberg began working with golden lion tamarins at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  When she moved from there to Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Ga., to become the senior director of collections and conservation in July 2012, she brought not only the Golden Lion Tamarin international studbook with her, but years of training and guidance from Jonathan Ballou, her predecessor and mentor.  “I had a nice twelve-year overlap with Jon” she said. “That made the transition much easier.”

Jonathan Ballou may have already passed the golden lion tamarin “torch” to the next generation, but there are other long-time coordinators who are still pondering the “how-to” of succession. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) initiated its signature Species Survival Plan® (SSP) programs in the 1980s. The success of these programs—measured in part by maintaining healthy populations of animals in a zoo or aquarium and, in some cases, reintroducing them back into the wild—is largely due to early leaders. With no instruction book and feeling their way, these men and women created the SSPs from scratch and fostered the relationships necessary to sustain them.  Now, thirty years down the road, these SSPs are complex programs with many moving parts, and these pioneers are considering how to pass on their institutional memory, their years of experience and, perhaps most importantly, their personal relationships.

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