AZA Animal Care Manuals (ACMs) provide a compilation of animal care and management knowledge that has been gained from recognized species experts, including AZA Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs), Species Survival Plan® Programs (SSPs), biologists, veterinarians, nutritionists, reproduction physiologists, behaviorists and researchers. This varied expertise can be used to enhance animal care and welfare, which includes the physical, psychological, and emotional health of our animals. These manuals are based on the current science, practice, and technology of animal management to maximize capacity for excellence in animal care and welfare. Incorporating the information from these manuals into animal management practices at zoos and aquariums maximizes excellence in animal care and welfare, and ensures institutions are maintaining best practices.

ACMs are considered works in progress, since practices continue to evolve through advances in scientific knowledge. The use of information within the manuals should be in accordance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations concerning the care of animals. The recommendations are not exclusive management approaches, diets, medical treatments, or procedures, and may require adaptation to the specific needs of individual animals and particular circumstances in each institution. Commercial entities and media identified are not necessarily endorsed by AZA. The statements presented throughout the body of the manual do not represent standards of care unless specifically identified as such in clearly marked sidebar boxes.

Completed Animal Care Manuals

AZA-accredited institutions are required to have copies of, and ensure that all animal care staff has access to, the completed ACMs for species within their collection (AZA Accreditation Standard 1.2.1).  Completed Animal Care Manuals include:

Andean Condor
Bustards - second edition
Chimpanzee - translated into Spanish
Chimpanzee - translated into Japanese
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake
Eulemur - translated into Spanish
Giant Pacific Octopus
Greater Roadrunner
Hamadryas Baboon
Indigo Snake
Jaguar - translated into Spanish
Japanese Spider Crab
Jellyfish - second edition
Jellyfish - first edition, translated into Spanish
Large Canids
Large Canids - translated into Spanish
Lion - translated into Spanish  
Mongoose, Meerkat, and Fossa  
Mongoose, Meerkat, and Fossa - translated into Spanish
Penguin - translated into Spanish
Polar Bear
Red-legged Seriema
Red-legged Seriema - translated into Portuguese
Red Panda
Sea Otters
Shorebirds - translated into Portuguese
Sun and Sloth Bear
Tapir - translated into Spanish
Tiger - translated into Spanish  

Development and Publication

The development of each ACM is coordinated by the AZA Animal Welfare Committee and managed by AZA's Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department. A complete ACM Template is available to all AZA members. The template has been updated to reflect the 2023 Accreditation Standards. The template is divided into chapters, each of which focuses on a different animal care or management topic.

Each chapter contains specific sections with general introductory information and corresponding AZA Accreditation Standards identified. Each section lists bulleted points, developed with input from AZA Committees, Scientific Advisory Groups, and the Animal Program's Population Management and Reproductive Management Centers, that are addressed by the authors.

The developmental processes used to compose each ACM follows a specific sequence that includes several review procedures (internal and external) before the AZA Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department reviews it and ultimately approves publication. There are six primary steps needed to complete the publication process:

  1. The TAG or SSP will identify an ACM Coordinator to serve as the main communications conduit between the authors and AZA's Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) and Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department.
  2. The ACM Coordinator will work with the authors to compile all scientific data and professional information about the natural history and management strategies of the taxa and will incorporate this information into the pre-existing sections of the ACM template. The ACM Coordinator should include any relevant Scientific Advisory Groups (SAGs) to assist with writing and reviewing those specific sections of the ACMs.
  3. Upon completion of the draft ACM, the ACM Coordinator will work with the authors to identify two or more external review experts and will submit this information and the draft ACM to the AZA Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department for proofreading and editing.
  4. When all edits are agreed upon, the AZA Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department will post the final draft of the ACM on the AZA website and send it to the following for the required 30-day member comment period: External Reviewers; TAG Steering Committee; SSP Coordinator and the Chairs of the Animal Welfare, Animal Health, Animal Population Management, and Research and Technology Committees as well as Avian (if applicable), Behavior, Biomaterials Banking, Reproduction and Endocrinology, Institutional Data Management, Nutrition, and Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Groups.
  5. The ACM Coordinator will work with the TAG/SSP, AWC and AZA Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department to review all comments, incorporate suggestions as deemed necessary and provide a written justification report for omitting suggestions deemed unnecessary.
  6. Once completed, the AZA Conservation, Management, & Welfare Sciences Department will provide final approval and post the ACM on the AZA website accordingly.

Animal Care Manuals In Progress

ACM AZA 1st Proof AP Edit & Review AZA 2nd Proof AP Edit & Review AZA/AP Final Proof 30-Day Comment Period
Cheetah YES YES YES In Progress - -
Giraffe YES YES YES In Progress - -
Flamingo YES YES YES In Progress - -
Walrus YES YES In Progress - - -
Ring-tailed Lemurs YES YES In Progress - - -
Okapi YES In Progress - - - -
Mangabey YES In Progress - - - -
Small Felids YES In Progress - - - -
Attwater's Prairie Chicken YES In Progress - - - -
California Sea Lion YES In Progress - - - -
Tree Kangaroo YES In Progress - - - -
Short-beaked Echidna YES In Progress - - - -
Hummingbird YES In Progress - - - -
Perdido Key Beach Mouse YES In Progress - - - -
Porcupine YES In Progress - - - -
Nocturnal Prosimians YES In Progress - - - -
Stork YES In Progress - - - -
Ruffed Lemurs YES In Progress - - - -
Guenon YES In Progress - - - -
Asian Wild Horse YES In Progress - - - -
Cassowary In Progress - - - - -
Bonobo In Progress - - - - -
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