AZA News Releases

Association of Zoos & Aquariums Announces Annual Honors and Awards Recipients

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized the achievements of over 25 member facilities in the fields of conservation, education, research, exhibit design, marketing, sustainability, and volunteer engagement during the annual AZA conference this September in Indianapolis. 

AZA also honored 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 Devra Kleiman Award for Scientific Advancement to behavioral and animal welfare scientist Dr. Kathy Carlstead whose research has provided tremendous breakthroughs in understanding the complex factors that affect animal welfare in zoos.

AZA also recognized veteran zoo designer and landscape architect Gary Lee with the Wendy Fisher Award for Professional Excellence. Since the late 1970s, Lee has worked on hundreds of individual zoo projects and contributed greatly to the concept of immersive habitat exhibit design.

“We are proud to recognize the leaders in the zoo and aquarium community for their outstanding achievements,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “They are working tirelessly to constantly advance our profession and their successes prove their commitment to AZA’s mission of creating a world where all people respect value, and conserve wildlife and wild places.”

The 2017 Honors and Awards recipients are as follows:

The Edward H. Bean Award for reproductive management:

•    Top Honors – The Wilds for the Southern White Rhinoceros program

International Conservation Award:
•    Significant Achievement – Zoological Society of Milwaukee for Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative
•    Top Honors- Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International for Saving one of the world's most charismatic species: Fifty years of conserving eastern gorillas

North American Conservation Award:
•    Significant Achievement – Saint Louis Zoo for The Saint Louis Zoo's American Burying Beetle Recovery Program
•    Top Honors – San Diego Zoo Global, Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Phoenix Zoo  for California Condor Bi-national Recovery and Reintroduction Program, United States and Mexico 

Exhibit Award – institutional operating budget under $5 million:
•    Top Honors – Henry Vilas Zoo for Arctic Passage

Exhibit Award – institutional operating budget over $5 million:

•    Innovation – California Academy of Sciences for Twilight Zone: Deep Reefs Revealed
•    Innovation – Philadelphia Zoo for ZOO360®
•    Significant Achievement – Cincinnati Zoo for Africa
•    Top Honors – Detroit Zoo for Polk Penguin Conservation Center
•    Top Honors – Oregon Zoo for Elephant Lands

Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award:
•     Significant Achievement – Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for W.I.L.D. (Wildlife Immersion and Leadership Development) Program
•    Significant Achievement – Utah's Hogle Zoo for Zoo Just for You
•    Top Honors – John G. Shedd Aquarium for All Are Welcome: Accessibility and Inclusion at Shedd Aquarium

Education Award – institutional operating budget under $5 million:
•    Significant Achievement – North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores for Aquarium Teen Ambassadors
•    Top Honors – Africam Safari for Guardians of the Forest
Education Award – institutional operating budget over $5 million:
•    Significant Achievement – Denver Zoo for Nurturing Scientists Through Nature Play
•    Top Honors – Wildlife Conservation Society for Urban Advantage
Green Award for sustainable business practices:
•    Top Honors – Philadelphia Zoo

Excellence in Marketing Award – campaign budget less than $175,000:
•    Significant Achievement – Fresno Chaffee Zoo for We are Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Excellence in Marketing Award – campaign budget more than $175,000:
•    Top Honors – Philadelphia Zoo for Zoo Changes You

Volunteer Engagement Award:
•    Innovation – Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) Volunteer Program
•    Innovation – The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore for The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore: 141-derful years as an urban oasis
•    Significant Achievement – Lincoln Park Zoo for Lincoln Park Zoo’s Volunteer Program
•    Top Honors – John G. Shedd Aquarium for Shedd Aquarium's Guest Engagement Volunteer Program

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, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA 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 global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit

Posted by Ashley Jones at 13:40
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