Animal Program Roles

Program Leaders

TAG Chairs

The TAG Chair position holds important responsibilities that are critical to the success of AZA’s Animal Programs.  The primary responsibility of the TAG Chair is to ensure the completion and distribution of an RCP. Additional responsibilities include leadership of the TAG, organization of its members, oversight and consistent communication with all Animal Programs within the TAG’s purview (SSP Programs, AZA Regional Studbooks, and Candidate Programs), the Institutional Liaisons (ILs), Institutional Representatives (IRs), and reporting to the APM Committee.  It is important for the TAG Chair to work closely with the AZA Conservation & Science staff and its APM Committee Liaison in all matters related to the TAG’s ongoing operations.  The TAG Chair serves as the primary contact and AZA expert for the taxon.

SSP Coordinators

An SSP Coordinator performs various duties to lead and support the AZA SSP Program.  The SSP Coordinator works with IRs, the AZA Regional Studbook Keeper, the TAG, the APM Committee, and the AZA Conservation & Science Department, as well any associated governmental agencies, to develop, oversee, promote, and support the cooperative animal management, conservation, and research initiatives of the SSP Program.  The primary responsibility of the SSP Coordinator is to regularly complete and distribute an SSP Breeding and Transfer Plan for the managed population. Additional responsibilities include leadership and organization of the SSP Program in building and appropriately managing a sustainable population, and communication of recommendations and guidelines to the appropriate stakeholders. The SSP Coordinator serves as the primary contact and AZA expert for their species and abides by the duties and responsibilities set forth by the AZA, APM Committee, and the TAG.

Studbook Keepers

The AZA Regional Studbook Keeper is responsible for maintaining an accurate record of the histories of all individual animals in an ex situ population for the purpose of population management.  This is an important responsibility because the global zoo and aquarium community depends on the maintenance of accurate Studbook records in order to manage populations and fulfill the goal of long-term sustainability. The AZA Regional Studbook Keeper works directly with the associated TAG and SSP Program, all participating AZA member institutions, the APM Committee, the PMC, a PMC Adjunct, or an approved SPMAG Advisor, and the AZA Conservation & Science Department to complete and distribute a timely and accurate AZA Regional Studbook to be used for demographic and genetic analyses relevant to the SSP Program’s population management. The AZA Regional Studbook Keeper serves as a contact and AZA expert for the species and abides by the duties and responsibilities set forth by the AZA, APM Committee, SSP Program, and the TAG. 


Animal Program Officers include TAG Vice Chairs, SSP Vice Coordinators, Secretaries, and Treasurers.


Advisors, often members of corresponding SAGs, play a critical role in advising, designing, and executing conservation and management decisions within AZA Animal Programs.  SSP Programs are encouraged to fill as many Advisor positions as appropriate for their SSP Program in order to implement superlative species conservation and management initiatives.  Advisors to Animal Programs include expertise in the following fields:

Animal Welfare
Biomaterials Banking
Education (search for vacancies)
Field Conservation
Government Affairs
Green Practices

Life Support Systems
Public Relations
Water Quality

Institutional Liaisons (ILs)

The IL ensures that there is effective communication and participation between the institution and AZA’s TAG and SSP Programs.  It is assumed that all decisions/votes made by the IL are approved by the Institutional Director. The IL designates IRs and keeps the institution’s IR list current.  The IL serves as the default IR for any TAG or SSP Program which does not have an IR designated and is required to respond accordingly. The IL works with Program Leaders and IRs to ensure that their institution fully participates in all associated TAG and SSP Programs, and if necessary, will meet in conflict resolution processes.

Institutional Representatives (IRs)

The IR is the primary contact between his/her institution and the Program Leader of the TAG and SSP Programs to which s/he has been designated.  The IR is responsible for maintaining open communication between the TAG and SSP Program and the institution, communicating to the Program Leader on behalf of the institution, and participating in TAG and SSP Program communications and activities. Each institution is represented by one IR for each TAG and SSP Program in which the institution participates.

Animal Population Management (APM) Committee (formerly WCMC)

The Animal Population Management (APM) Committee supports the development, promotion, evaluation, and management of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) cooperative Animal Programs, including 45 Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs) and nearly 500 AZA Animal Programs. The APM Committee ensures superior animal care, management, and sustainability within AZA’s Animal Programs, and collaborates with other AZA Committees and global zoological associations to achieve these goals. Each TAG is assigned an APM Committee Liaison to provide general assistance to the TAG’s Animal Program oversight and operation, and ensure the TAG maintains consistent communication with their Program Leaders, especially with respect to building sustainable populations.

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