Partnering for Conservation

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Partnering for Conservation Page Photo

© James Jalenak, Memphis Zoo


Partnering for Conservation

It has been estimated that at least twenty percent of the world's biological diversity may be lost within the next few decades. AZA’s remarkable dedication to animal conservation is furthered by its numerous partnerships, including Conservation Action Partnerships within AZA, conservation collaborations with other organizations, and memorandums of understanding with government and non-government agencies. These partnerships focus on specific "hot spot regions" where biodiversity is subject to increasing pressure and degradation or species that are threatened with extinction.

Memorandums of Understanding

AZA has developed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with several government wildlife agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations. These MOUs specifically identify the ways in which the parties involved are committed to actions needed for conservation initiatives.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
AZA has long worked with the dedicated professionals at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) toward species recovery and in 1998, AZA and USFW established an MOU to strengthen the ties of the science-based programs and the potential for development of public education and outreach programs.  Read more about ways AZA partners with the USFWS

Polar Bears International
In November, 2009, AZA and Polar Bears International (PBI) established an MOU to work cooperatively to engage people in understanding the specific impacts of climate disruption on polar bears and becoming personally involved in reducing climate impacts on polar bear habitat.  Read more about AZA's partnership with PBI.

Conservation Collaborations

AZA and its accredited institutions collaborate with a variety of like-minded organizations to focus on specific conservation issues including butterfly and amphibian conservation and the bushmeat crisis in Africa.

Butterfly Conservation Initiative
The Butterfly Conservation Initiative (BFCI) was jointly established by AZA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Partnerships and Outreach in 2001. The BFCI serves to support the recovery of federally listed butterfly species in the United States and increase public awareness of and involvement in local and regional butterfly conservation efforts.

Amphibian Ark
The Amphibian Ark was jointly established by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. The Amphibian Ark serves to address the ex situ components of the IUCN’s 2008 Amphibian Conservation Action Plan, coordinate ex situ programs implemented by partners around the world, and increase public awareness of and involvement in local and regional amphibian conservation efforts.

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force
In 1999, AZA and its accredited zoos and aquariums created the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF), a coalition of more than 30 major conservation organizations that focus on curbing the illegal commercial trade of wildlife meat for human consumption in Africa. BCTF serves to keep its members informed of opportunities to address the bushmeat crisis, leverage information and obtain funding to improve in situ conservation efforts, and act as an expert advisor for audiences as diverse as students, Congressmen, journalists, and field biologists.

Cheetah Conservation Fund 
Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) works on all aspects of the cheetah's plight, through education and public outreach, applied conservation biology and management, public policy, and science and research.  CCF organizes an International Cheetah Day to raise awareness about the cheetah's race against extinction.  AZA members are encouraged to host International Cheetah Day events and help spread the word to save the cheetah.  Materials and activity ideas are available at

Conservation Action Partnerships

AZA Conservation Action Partnerships (CAPs) are specialized groups designed to help AZA-accredited institutions and members network and facilitate the development and coordination of multiple conservation projects. Since many of the species managed in AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Programs are endangered and native to hot spot regions, SSP Coordinators are often members of CAPs. In addition, CAPs are composed of AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium Directors and Curators, university faculty, scientists, field researchers and advisors from conservation organizations and agencies with special expertise or interest in a particular region and its wildlife.

CAPs foster cooperation and communication with government wildlife agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations by supporting existing national parks and reserves, assisting local zoo and aquarium colleagues, transferring useful information, technology, and supplies to target areas, conducting field research, educating the public, and developing in-country breeding programs to support reintroduction and enhancement of wild populations.