AZA News Releases

Ashe to Congress: AZA-Accredited Zoos, Aquariums Important Part of the Endangered Species Act’s Past, Future

Silver Spring, Maryland – In testimony delivered today before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, The Honorable Daniel M. Ashe, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), highlighted several of the many species recovery efforts made possible under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of the close working partnership between AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos, the federal government and other conservation partners.

“The AZA and its members take the issue of wildlife conservation very seriously and wholeheartedly support the Endangered Species Act, which has prevented hundreds of listed species from going extinct,” testified Ashe. “Simply put, the ESA, which is recognized globally as a model for species preservation, is working.”

AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos have been working closely with the federal government for decades under the authority of the ESA to save species. Since its inception in 1973, the ESA has prevented the extinction of 99% of the species it protects.

Ashe also noted one achievement that has gone largely unnoticed is the significant role zoos and aquariums have played in bringing over 25 species back from the brink of extinction. The California condor and the black-footed ferret are two of the many examples of species zoos and aquariums have helped save from extinction and reintroduced back into the wild.

At the same time, AZA-accredited facilities recognized they had an obligation to do more to help save species. Together, AZA members have launched SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction®. SAFE provides urgent leadership and action to prevent mass animal extinctions. Ashe noted the actions AZA-accredited facilities take to protect endangered species today will determine the kind of world we live in for many generations to come.

“AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums all share a deep commitment to the animals we care for and to conserving wildlife throughout the world. Now, through SAFE, we are challenging ourselves to create a collective movement strong enough to turn the tide against a massive wave of animal extinctions,” continued Ashe.

During his testimony, Ashe detailed how AZA-accredited facilities are working on educating the 186 million guests who visit AZA facilities on important issues impacting endangered species, like species conservation efforts and wildlife trafficking, and how a strong partnership between non-governmental organizations, Congress, federal agencies, state governments, private sector stakeholders, and the public is critical to future success of the ESA.

“Although we have made significant progress in saving endangered species, this work is far from done.  Species protection and conservation requires long-term commitment by all of us.  It is through the ongoing work related to species recovery plans that we will conserve these species for future generations,” concluded Ashe. “The AZA and its members fully support the Endangered Species Act, and we look forward to working with Congress to assure that the agencies responsible for carrying out the mandates of the Act receive the necessary funding, human resource capacity, and regulatory flexibility to succeed.”

Ashe's full testimony is available here:

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 eight 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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