From the Desk of Dan Ashe


Our world and our nation are undergoing rapid social change, which I believe is at the root of our current, unsettling and disruptive politics. Think how our collective societal views have changed, and continue changing, on things like gay marriage, LGBTQ equality, marijuana legalization, and in our professional orbit, animal rights, protection, and welfare. Change is disruptive, and that is reflected in today’s social dialogue and politics—coarse, angry, and sometimes a bit scary.... Read More
at Thursday, February 15, 2018

AZA Celebrates Valentine's Day

On Valentine’s Day and every day, zoo and aquarium professionals at AZA-accredited facilities show their love and commitment to the animals in their care. Here are a few examples of how our 230 members are celebrating the special day. At Detroit Zoo’s Heart Fest , animals enjoyed special heart-themed enrichment items like treat filled piñatas as part of a comprehensive animal care program at the Zoo that ensures animal habitats are ever changing and stimulate natural... Read More
at Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Importance of Animal Encounters

I greatly enjoyed reading Sadie Dingfelder’s January 4 Washington Post article “Stalking an elusive YouTube star: The adorkable red panda,” which highlights just one of the many unique behind-the-scenes experiences offered to visitors at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Animal encounters, like those that Ms. Dingfelder‘s family participated at Oglebay’s Good Zoo, provide an increasingly rare and precious commodity in today’s world —connections to... Read More
at Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We Can Conserve Elephants Without Hunting Them

As of January 1, China – the world’s largest market for elephant ivory – has banned the import or trade of ivory in the country. There has also been a lot of commentary regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to resume Zimbabwe elephant hunting trophy imports. I feel that commentary is missing important perspectives. I was the USFWS Director who approved the 2014 import ban. The original action is portrayed as “an Obama Administration ban.” It... Read More
at Thursday, January 4, 2018

Celebrating the Season with ZooLights

The holiday season is fast approaching, and all over the country, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are getting into the holiday spirit with ZooLights and other celebrations. Staff and volunteers at over 50 AZA facilities have ornamented their zoos and aquariums with festive, creative decorations, and the end results are absolutely incredible! From animal-themed glowing light displays and scuba-diving Santas, there’s no shortage of holiday cheer. Throughout the holidays, our... Read More
at Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reflections on “Invest In The Nest”

As Global Tiger Day approaches on July 29 th and AZA members prepare to showcase the magnificent animals through a special series of Facebook Lives with Animal Planet , I can’t help but reflect on our association’s extraordinary teamwork. It was just a few weeks ago that we surpassed our “ Invest In The Nest ” campaign goal on Kickstarter afterall. We know African penguins are a species in peril in large part because of loss of habitat. “Invest In The... Read More
at Friday, July 21, 2017

The National Geographic Photo Ark Exhibit

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to see the National Geographic Photo Ark exhibit at the Dallas Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden . I’ve also had the chance to hear Joel Sartore, the photographer, speak about conservation, and the role zoos and aquariums play in that. I found Joel’s talk and Photo Ark to be an incredible experience, as did Mike Norton, the executive vice president of Norton Outdoor Advertising, a three-generation family-owned business... Read More
at Wednesday, May 31, 2017

AZA Partnering in the March for Science

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson On April 22, 2017 – Earth Day – thousands of citizens will unite their voices in support of science, in what is being called the March for Science. The website for this effort includes this mission statement: The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a... Read More
at Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts on the Endangered Species Act

Last Wednesday , I testified on the Endangered Species Act before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee . I wanted to share with you my remarks: Thank you, Senator Inhofe. It’s a joy to be back here once again. From 2011 to January of 2017, I served as director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. My confirmation was considered in a hearing by this committee and today I sit here as President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or as we... Read More
at Wednesday, February 22, 2017

54 Years of Caring for Packy

The cover of the May 11, 1962, edition of Life magazine featured Bob Hope and proclaimed a "Brilliant Evening at the White House."  John F. Kennedy was president. And inside was an 11-page story heralding the birth of a 225-pound Asian elephant at Portland's Oregon Zoo. That elephant -- named Packy -- has earned the endearment of Portland, our nation, and the world. Early in the morning, on Thursday, February 9, 54-years after that Life magazine article, the animal... Read More
at Friday, February 10, 2017

Bitten By The Wildlife Bug

When I was 12 years old, I was bitten by a copperhead that I was trying to catch.  While the snake got away, that experience and many others gifted me with a lasting love of wildlife.   A native of Atlanta, Ga., I grew up with a deep appreciation of native wildlife and lizards, snakes, turtles, birds, bugs, and once, a mother possum and four kits, were all part of any given day in the Ashe home. My father was a 37-year career employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service... Read More
at Thursday, February 9, 2017

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