AZA News Releases

Association of Zoos and Aquariums Announces 2019 Honors and Awards Recipients

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized the achievements of nearly 30 member facilities in the fields of conservation, education, research, exhibit design, marketing, diversity, and volunteer engagement during the annual AZA conference this September in New Orleans.

AZA also recognized two individuals who have demonstrated their passion for wildlife conservation and made significant, ground-breaking contributions to the zoo and aquarium profession.

AZA awarded the organization’s highest honor, the R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence, to Kris Vehrs, AZA’s Executive Director, who will be retiring this January.

AZA also presented the Devra Kleiman Award for Scientific Advancement to Dr. Robert Lacy, an expert in population genetics and Senior Conservation Scientist Emeritus at the Chicago Zoological Society.

“We are proud to honor the distinguished leaders in our profession for their outstanding accomplishments,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “Their contributions and mentorship have inspired all within the zoo and aquarium community to advance AZA’s mission of creating a world where all people respect value, and conserve wildlife and wild places.”

The 2019 Honors and Awards recipients are as follows:

Edward H. Bean Award

  • Top Honors – Endangered Wolf Center for Mexican Wolf

William G. Conway International Conservation Award:

  • Top Honors – Monterey Bay Aquarium for The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program
  • Significant Achievement – Health in Harmony for “Saving Orangutan Habitat by Providing Healthcare”

North American Conservation Award

  • Top Honors – Roger Williams Park Zoo and Queens Zoo for “New England Cottontail Rabbit Captive Breeding and Recovery Program”
  • Significant Achievement – Oregon Zoo for “Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery”
  • Innovation – Blank Park Zoo for “Plant. Grow. Fly.”

Exhibit Award 

  • Top Honors – Nashville Zoo for “Expedition PERU: Trek of the Andean Bear”
  • Top Honors – New York Aquarium for “Ocean Wonder: SHARKS!”
  • Significant Achievement – Oakland Zoo for “California Trail”
  • Significant Achievement – Zoo Knoxville for “Boyd Family Asian Trek”
  • Innovation – National Aviary for “National Aviary’s Tropical Rainforest”
  • Innovation – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for “Children’s Adventure Trails”
  • Innovation – Oregon Zoo for “Oregon Zoo Education Center”

Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award

  • Top Honors – Potter Park Zoo for “Zoo In Your Neighborhood”
  • Significant Achievement – Oregon Zoo for “Coordinated Initiative to Expand Our Circle of Inclusion”
  • Community Engagement – Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk for “Accessibility for All”

Education Award:

  • Top Honors – Houston Zoo for “Saving Wildlife School Partnership Program”
  • Significant Achievement – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for “Packrat Playhouse: Hidden I the Midden”
  • Significant Achievement – Birmingham Zoo for “ZooSchool”
  • Innovation – Nashville Zoo for “Cougar Commodore Collaborative”

Excellence in Marketing Award

  • Top Honors – Woodland Park Zoo for “This is How We Zoo”
  • Significant Achievement – Arizona Center for Nature Conservation: Phoenix Zoo for “Dinosaurs in the Desert”
  • Significant Achievement – Audubon Nature Institute for “Audubon Zoo Lights Presented by Children’s Hospital 2018”
  • Significant Achievement – Toronto Zoo for “Come See All that We Do at the Toronto Zoo”
  • Innovation – South Carolina Aquarium for “The Journey Home”

Volunteer Engagement Award

  • Top Honors – Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk for "Conversation 2 Conservation”
  • Significant Achievement – Greensboro Science Center for “Greensboro Science Center Animal Encounter Team”
  • Innovation in Community Engagement – Dallas Zoo for “Dallas Zoo Volunteers: Catalysts for Local and Global Conservation”
  • Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion – The Wilds for “Outstanding Wilds Learners Program (OWLs)”

Quarter Century Award (for 25 years of continuous AZA accreditation)

  • Prospect Park Zoo
  • Steinhart Aquarium

To learn more about AZA’s Honors and Awards, visit


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 eleven 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 10:00
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