AZA News Releases

African Lion Breeding Program Receives Award from Association of Zoos & Aquariums

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has recognized the work of zoological professionals in the African Lion Species Survival Plan ® (SSP) Program with AZA’s 2018 SSP Sustainability Award.

AZA’s SSP Program oversees sustainable population management of over 500 species through a variety of species conservation, research, husbandry, management, and educational initiatives. Through this program, expert advisors work together to manage the demographic distribution and genetic health of animal populations within AZA member facilities.  

“Collectively and responsibly managing our animal populations is one of the most important things we do,” said Candice Dorsey, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Conservation, Management and Welfare Sciences at AZA. “The African Lion SSP is an excellent example of AZA-accredited facilities working together to assure genetic and demographic diversity for the lions in our care. The Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee is proud to honor their accomplishments with this award.”

The African Lion (Panthera leo) SSP began in 1993 in response to a declining number of lions in AZA-accredited zoos. Over the last decade, the SSP undertook a multi-pronged approach using a combination of science-based management strategies and a commitment to transparency to accomplish AZA’s goals for a healthy population and top-quality care for lions.

“Lions are among the most iconic, high-profile species in zoos, and they act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, who are in trouble,” said Hollie Colahan, AZA’s Lion SSP Coordinator and Vice President for Animal Care at Denver Zoo. “Several years ago there was justifiable concern about the state of the SSP. Now, the program has turned a corner, leading to an all-time high number of lions in AZA zoos, and ensuring our ability to sustain a healthy lion population and exceptional care in the long run.”

The African Lion SSP provides breeding and transfer recommendations for more than 370 animals across 105 AZA facilities. The program was commended for its significant advancements in population management techniques, communication strategies, and creation of resources to help improve lion husbandry.

AZA established the SSP Sustainability Award in 2017 to recognize programs that have a quantifiable impact on the long-term sustainability of an SSP’s managed population. Previous recipients of the award include the Tawny Frogmouth and Blue-billed Curassow SSP Programs.

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

Posted by Ashley Jones at 09:30
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