AZA News Releases

Animal Ambassadors to Arrive on Capitol Hill

Silver Spring, MD – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) today hosts its Annual Capitol Hill Advocacy Day and Reception.       

During the AZA’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, zoo and aquarium professionals will inform legislators about programs at their institutions and encourage legislators to act on important issues affecting all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, as well as wildlife species that currently face extinction.

“AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are global leaders in wildlife conservation and education and leaders in their own communities,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “More than 181 million people visit AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos each year, and this annual Advocacy Day and Reception on Capitol Hill provides a special opportunity for Members of Congress and zoo and aquarium professionals to discuss the important impact these facilities have on tourism and business in their local communities and on the future of wildlife species around the world.”

AZA accredits 229 zoos and aquariums in the United States and overseas. These institutions collectively generate more than $17 billion in annual economic activity and support more than 166,000 jobs.

In the last 10 years, AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos trained more than 400,000 teachers, supporting science curricula with effective teaching materials and hands-on opportunities. Twelve million students (pre-K through Grade 12) visit AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums each year as part of school field trips.

Annually AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums contribute $160 million to more than 2,450 field conservation projects worldwide.

During the AZA’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, zoo and aquarium professionals will inform legislators about programs at their institutions and encourage legislators to act on important issues affecting all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, including: ·         

Support funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Office of Museum Services - The IMLS is the primary federal agency responsible for supporting the nation’s 17,500+ museums.  Aquariums and zoological parks are defined by the ‘‘Museum and Library Services Act of 2003’’ (P.L. 108-81) as museums. ·         

Support funding for the education programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies - The NOAA Ocean Education Grants and Bay Watershed Education and Training (BWET) programs provide students with the opportunity to learn firsthand about our world’s marine resources. AZA-accredited aquariums work closely with federal, state, and local partners on projects with long-lasting benefits not only for the students but their communities as well. ·         

Support funding for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program -  This program provides grants or cooperative agreements to eligible stranding network participants, including AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, for the recovery and treatment of stranded marine mammals, data collection, and facility upgrades, operation costs, and staffing needs for these activities. ·         

Support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF) – This legislation benefits essential programs for conserving tigers, rhinos, Asian elephants, African elephants, great apes, and sea turtles.·         

Support Efforts to Significantly Reduce the Domestic Commercial Trade in Elephant Ivory –   AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are working with policymakers to fight wildlife trafficking by reducing the demand for ivory products in the United States and around the world.·        

 Support Efforts to Raise Awareness of the Issue of Deforestation Due to Unsustainable Palm Oil Production – The AZA urges Members of Congress to support funding for endangered species recovery and science education programs so that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums can protect and restore biodiversity across the globe and educate future scientists and conservationists.

Following a day of Capitol Hill visits, AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium professionals will introduce Members of Congress and their staff to special ambassador animals at the Annual Association of Zoos and Aquariums Reception.

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  

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