Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award

“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognizes and embraces human diversity in all its forms and facets, while also acknowledging we continue to fall short in our efforts to be equitable and inclusive.

AZA zoos and aquariums need to recognize the strength that comes from the diversity of backgrounds among staff, partners, and stakeholders to achieve their missions. As the composition of the United States' and other countries’ populations become increasingly diverse, and calls for a more equitable society become more urgent, zoos and aquariums must take action to develop or deepen comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives in their hiring and employment practices; the services and experiences they provide their visitors and communities; the way that they do business; and how they work with in-situ conservation partners." (AZA Diversity, Equity, Access & Inclusion Position Statement, 2020).

Through the Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award, AZA recognizes institutions that are demonstrating transformational leadership in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. Winning institutions will successfully demonstrate that they have implemented significant changes through strategies that have ripple effects throughout the organization and beyond. Those organizations selected for the award demonstrate their leadership as a zoo or aquarium that is helping to transform our industry to be more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive for all people in support of the mission of AZA and member organizations.

The award recognizes institutions that have made significant strides in creating influential and transformative programs in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion – and that serve as catalysts for change for the organization and beyond. Programs designed as one-time or special events for single implementation will not be considered. Projects must be active at the time of submission to be eligible for this award.

If there is any question as to what constitutes an eligible project, please email Rob Vernon or call (301) 244-3352.

How to Submit an Application 

2023 application materials are available below. Applications are due June 16, 2023.
Past recipients' application materials are available below.  

All Honors and Awards applications must be submitted in electronic format ONLY and must be compiled into one PDF file. Please make sure the file name reflects both the award name and the institution.

Please upload your file to the AZA Dropbox link in the Application document below. Your file will go to the AZA Dropbox account, but you do not need to sign in, or even have a Dropbox account to use this link—when it opens, just click on the “choose files” box and upload your application.

Remember to submit a Media Release Form (DOC) with your application.

Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award Recipients

See past recipients' application materials (member login required)


Top Honors
Nashville Zoo for Morton Family Exhibit


Top Honors
Lincoln Park Zoo for For Wildlife, For ALL

Special Recognition
Wildlife Conservation Society for WCS Youth Career Lattice


Significant Achievement
Woodland Park Zoo for Woodland Park Zoo Volunteer Inclusion Program

Special Recognition
Brevard Zoo for Family Nature Club


Top Honors
Potter Park Zoo for Zoo In Your Neighborhood

Significant Achievement
Oregon Zoo for Oregon Zoo: Coordinated Initiative to Expand Our Circle of Inclusion

Community Engagement
Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk for Accessibility for All


Significant Achievement

  • Wildlife Conservation Society for Project TRUE (Teens Researching Urban Ecology)
  • Akron Zoological Park and Birmingham Zoo for Sensory Inclusive Zoo Initiative


Top Honors
John G. Shedd Aquarium for All Are Welcome: Accessibility and Inclusion at Shedd Aquarium

Significant Achievement

  • Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for W.I.L.D. (Wildlife Immersion and Leadership Development) Program
  • Utah's Hogle Zoo for Zoo Just for You


Top Honors
Chicago Zoological Society for A Zoo for All


Significant Achievement
Detroit Zoological Society for Inclusive Experience


Significant Achievement
Wildlife Conservation Society for Bridging the Gap: The Effects of a School-to-Career Approach to Promoting Wildlife Science Careers Among Minority Students


Top Honors
Chicago Zoological Society for Cultivating Conservation Communities

Significant Achievement
Monterey Bay Aquarium for Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (WATCH)


Top Honors
Indianapolis Zoo for Minority Purchasing Initiative

Significant Achievement

  • Mystic Aquarium for Community Classroom for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Smithsonian National Zoo and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for YES! Program (Youth Engagement through Science)


Top Honors
Wildlife Conservation Society for Wildlife Career Center


Top Honors
Houston Zoo, Inc. for Target Title 1


Top Honors
Milwaukee Zoological Society and Milwaukee County Zoo for Programs for Disadvantaged Youth


Top Honors
Oregon Zoo for Zoo Animal Presenters (ZAP) Urban Nature Overnights (UNO)


Top Honors
Wildlife Conservation Society / Bronx Zoo for After-School Adventures in Wildlife Science

Significant Achievement
Monterey Bay Aquarium for Young Women in Science


Top Honors
South Carolina Zoo for High School Intern Program


Top Honors
Denver Zoo for Wonders in Nature - Wonders in Neighborhoods

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