AZA News Releases

Association of Zoos and Aquariums Announces 2020 Honors and Awards Recipients

Silver Spring, MD (September 17, 2020) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized the achievements of over 20 AZA member facilities in the fields of conservation, education, research, exhibit design, marketing, diversity, research, and volunteer engagement during the 2020 Virtual AZA Annual Conference this September.

“In these unprecedented times, I am glad we could convene and honor the outstanding achievements of the distinguished leaders in our profession,” said AZA President and CEO, Dan Ashe. “Their contributions and mentorship have inspired all within the accredited zoo and aquarium community to advance AZA’s mission of creating a world where all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places.”

This year also saw the establishment of a new award, the Research Award. This award recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA Accredited, Related Facility, or Conservation Partner members to advance the body of scientific knowledge as it relates to excellent welfare for the animals in our care, understanding biological principles, advancing field conservation efforts, and maximizing our impact on visitors.

“Zoos and aquariums are more important than ever in keeping people connected with nature,” said Sue Chin, Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect, Exhibits, Graphics, and Design at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Chair, AZA Honors and Awards Committee. “All of the award-winning projects exemplify excellence across the whole profession and are critical to advancing the field and our collective mission.”


The 2020 Honors and Awards recipients are as follows:

Edward H. Bean Award:

Innovation Award – Clouded Leopard; Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, D.C., Nashville Zoo, Nashville, Tenn., and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tacoma, Wash.


William G. Conway International Conservation Award:

Top Honors – Collaborating to Conserve Cotton-top Tamarins: Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Proyecto Tití; Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Orlando, Fla.

Significant Achievement – Southern Tanzania Vulture Monitoring and Conservation; North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, N.C., and the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, N.Y..


Exhibit Award:

Top Honors – Walkabout Australia; San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego, Calif.

Top Honors – Tiger Crossroads; Nashville Zoo, Nashville, Tenn.

Innovation Award – African Forest; Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Jacksonville, Fla.


Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award:

Significant Achievement – Woodland Park Zoo Volunteer Inclusion Program; Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Wash.

Special Recognition – Family Nature Club; Brevard Zoo, Brevard, Fla.


Education Award:

Top Honors – ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge presented by Flint Hills Resources; Minnesota Zoological Gardens, Apple Valley, Minn.

Top Honors – Racine Zoo AmeriCorps Program; Racine Zoological Society, Racine, Wis.

Significant Achievement – Philadelphia Zoo Albert M. Greenfield Foundation UNLESS Contest; Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, Pa.

Significant Achievement – Sound Resilience – Get on Board; Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Norwalk, Conn.

Community Engagement Award – King Conservation Leadership Academy; Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, Ill.


Green Award:

Significant Achievement – Houston Zoo, Houston, Texas


Excellence in Marketing Award

Significant Achievement – Reconnect with Nature; Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Spring, Colo.

Significant Achievement – Audubon Zoo Lions: The Roar Returns; Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, La.


Volunteer Engagement Award:

Top Honors – Ocean Park Golden Age Volunteer Programme; Ocean Park Hong Kong, Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Top Honors – Volunteer Inclusion Program; Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Wash.

Significant Achievement – Trunk Island – “Living Classroom”; Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo / Bermuda Zoological Society, Flats Village, Bermuda


Research Award:

Top Honors – Great Ape Heart Project; Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga.

Significant Achievement – The Urban Wildlife Information Network; Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Ill. / Oakland Zoo, Oakland, Calif. / Seneca Park Zoo, Rochester, N.Y. / Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden, Sanford, Fla. / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, Wa. / Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Eatonville, Wash. / Brandywine Zoo, Wilmington, Del. / Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Wash.

Significant Achievement – Testing with Touchscreens: Studying Primate Cognition and Welfare and Facilitating Public Engagement with Research in a Zoo Setting; Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Ill.


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

Cameron Park Zoo – Waco, Texas

Chahinkapa Zoo -  Wahpeton, N.D.

Sequoia Park Zoo – Eureka, Calif.

Texas State Aquarium – Corpus Christi, Texas

ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park – Hershey, Pa.

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 12 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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