Conservation is a priority for AZA-accredited institutions and is a key component of their missions. AZA facilitates the increased participation in conservation by its members, including in efforts that directly impact animals and habitats in the wild, as well as through efforts where the impact is less direct. To help advance the conservation of species and habitats, AZA collaborates with its Committees, Scientific Advisory Groups, Animal Programs, and individual members on its conservation efforts, and offers an array of tools, partnerships, and programs.
Each year, AZA’s publishes an Annual Report on Conservation and Science (ARCS) to celebrate the field conservation activities, mission-focused research, education programming, and green business practices of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, and certified related facilities. These reports are based on submissions made by members each year to AZA. Learn more about which data are submitted and access resources for collecting and entering that information online.
Partnering is essential in conservation, and the efforts of AZA and its accredited, certified-related, and Conservation Partner members are furthered by memoranda of understanding with government agencies and non-governmental organizations, and collaborations with other organizations. Learn more about AZA's partners in conservation.
Based on a 2008 report compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than one-third of amphibian species worldwide are threatened with extinction, and populations continue to decline. AZA and its accredited zoos and aquariums are committed to protecting these animals. In addition to managing the FrogWatch USA™ citizen science program, AZA maintains partnerships with amphibian conservation organizations and works closely with government agencies on their protection. AZA’s Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group (ATAG) and various amphibian SSPs coordinate collaborative recovery efforts. Read more about amphibian conservation.
It is estimated that some species of apes will be extinct early this century due to illegal hunting, habitat loss, disease, and the pet trade industry. AZA’s Ape Taxon Advisory Group launched the Ape TAG Conservation Initiative in 2010 to make it easier for AZA-accredited facilities to help secure long-term populations of apes in their natural habitats. This initiative has both increased the amount of zoo support for ape conservation and provided reliable, multi-year funding to ape-focused conservation projects. By working together and leveraging our considerable expertise, influence, and resources, AZA-accredited institutions are important agents of ape conservation. Read more about the ways the AZA community supports ape conservation.
The Asian wild horse, also known as Przewalski’s horse, roamed the grassland steppes of Europe and Asia for millennia until it was driven to extinction in the wild in the late 1960s. Before disappearing entirely, more than a dozen were rescued and zoos worldwide have bred them and worked with in-country partners to reintroduce the descendants back to the wild. Coordinated by the Asian Horse Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program, AZA-accredited facilities are supporting field research and conservation activities through the AZA True Wild Horse Initiative. Read more about the AZA Asian Wild Horse SSP Conservation Initiative.
The black-footed ferret (BFF) was thought to be extinct in the 1980's until a small colony was found on a prairie in Wyoming. Existing populations are the result of conservation breeding programs managed by several AZA organizations, multiple partners, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to reintroduce and manage populations in their native habitat. The BFF Recovery and Reintroduction program was evaluated in 1995 by the AZA Conservation and Science Department. Priority recommendations for the program were listed in a final report. AZA is conducting a 2020 review and analysis which will build on existing recovery efforts and provide recommendations for new approaches to BFF recovery for the issue-areas of managed care, reintroduction, disease, and program administration and outreach. Learn more here.
AZA and its members connect people with nature, and one way this is accomplished is through engagement in citizen science. AZA is actively involved in citizen science and manages FrogWatch USA™, a nationwide program coordinated by chapters hosted by AZA-accredited zoos, aquariums, and like-minded organizations across the United States. FrogWatch USA allows individuals and families to learn about and conserve amphibians and wetlands in their communities as well as collect and report local frog and toad call data. Read more about AZA's involvement in citizen science.
Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as other greenhouse gases, is causing changes to the earth’s climate, which is impacting wildlife in the oceans and on every continent. AZA, its Conservation Education Committee, Green Scientific Advisory Group, and member institutions are inspiring people to take personal and civic action to help decrease atmospheric CO2 concentrations while changing their own business practices, in order to protect humankind’s wildlife heritage. Read more about how AZA is addressing climate change and how you can help.
The wild African elephant population is experiencing a decline of approximately 100 elephants each day due to poaching, and the endangered Asian elephant population continues to diminish in size due to habitat loss and degradation. AZA, the Elephant Taxon Advisory Group, and AZA-accredited institutions provide superior elephant care, maintain sustainable and genetically diverse elephant populations, support elephant research and conservation, advocate on their behalf, and maintain partnerships to raise awareness of elephant issues and promote elephant conservation. Read more about elephant conservation.
AZA, the Marine Mammal Taxon Advisory Group, the Aquarium Affairs Committee, and AZA-accredited institutions strongly advocate on behalf of marine mammals, partner with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to raise awareness about threats facing them, and promote and dedicate funds to marine mammal conservation and critical research. The AZA community also continually strives to provide superior marine mammal care and maintain sustainable and genetically diverse populations. Read more about marine mammal conservation.
Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water and oceans provide homes to an incredible amount of biodiversity, have the means to support sustainable fisheries, and offer a plethora of resources vital to human life, including the largest source of our planet's oxygen. AZA, its Animal Programs, and its accredited institutions raise awareness about threats facing our oceans, conduct and provide financial support for research and conservation, advocate on an array of issues, and partner with like-minded government agencies and non-governmental organizations. Read more about ocean conservation.
Polar Bear Research Council is a committee under the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) that consists of polar bear professionals with a wide variety of expertise from both the zoo and field science communities. This committee has assembled the Polar Bear SSP Research Masterplan to guide research priorities for the Polar Bear SSP and participating institutions, advise the Polar Bear SSP on proposal endorsement requests, facilitate priority research efforts in SSP institutions and the welfare of all polar bears, keep current with emerging scientific questions regarding the long-term survival of wild bears, and track progress made through the scientific study of zoo managed and wild polar bears.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, over 75% of our flowering plants and nearly 75% of our crops rely on pollinators – hummingbirds, bats, bees, beetles, butterflies, and flies. However, many pollinators are experiencing dramatic population declines. In 2015, AZA joined the National Pollinator Garden Network and is promoting the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a campaign furthering pollinator conservation by having volunteers create, maintain, and register pollinator gardens at their homes, workplaces, and communities. AZA, its Animal Programs, and its accredited institutions have long been committed to protecting these animals. Learn more about pollinator conservation.
Thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range based on recent data, and with fewer than 4,000 remaining in the wild, today’s tiger populations are threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, loss of prey, and other factors. AZA’s Tiger Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program has published an Educator's Guide and developed a Tiger Conservation Campaign that encourages AZA-accredited zoos to contribute to a selection of six tiger conservation efforts in the range states of Amur, Malayan, and Sumatran tigers. Read more about the AZA Tiger SSP Conservation Campaign, or visit the campaign website to learn more.