AZA News Releases

Association of Zoos and Aquariums Announces 2021 Honors and Awards Recipients

Silver Spring, MD (November 17, 2021) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized the achievements of over 20 AZA member facilities in the fields of conservation, education, exhibit design, marketing, diversity, green practices, and volunteer engagement during the 2021 AZA Virtual Annual Conference this September.

“It is important for AZA and its community to recognize excellence, and that is what our Honors and Award program does,” said AZA President and CEO, Dan Ashe. “Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners. AZA is lucky to count you among its professional community!”

“Even amidst a pandemic, AZA members continue to do exceptional work. Our Honors and Awards program recognizes and celebrates those achievements,” said Sue Chin, Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Chair, AZA Honors and Awards Committee. “AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are leaders in animal care, conservation, education, community outreach, and more. The communities where these award-winning facilities are located should be proud of their achievements!”

The 2021 Honors and Awards recipients are as follows:

Animal Welfare Lifetime Achievement Award:

Jill Mellen, Ph.D. – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Devra Kleiman Scientific Advancement Award

Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., Director of Conservation Genetics - San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence

Douglas Myers, President and CEO Emeritus – San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

William G. Conway International Conservation Award:

Top Honors – Giant Armadillo Conservation Project; Houston Zoo, Houston, Texas / Naples Zoo and Caribbean Gardens, Naples, Fla. / SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Orlando, Fla.

Exhibit Award:

Top Honors – Eagle Passage: Wings of Hope; Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Eatonville Wash.

Top Honors – Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands and Cypress Circle Café; Houston Zoo, Houston, Texas

Significant Achievement - Australian Adventures; The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert, Calif.

Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award:

Top Honors - For Wildlife, For ALL; Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Ill.

Special Recognition – WCS Youth Career Lattice; Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, N.Y.

Education Award:

Top Honors – Zoo School; Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison, Wisc.

Top Honors – Virtual Aquarium: Supporting Teachers, Students and Families In a Time of Crisis; The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Norwalk, Conn.

Significant Achievement - Young Naturalists; Western North Carolina Nature Center, Asheville, N.C.

Significant Achievement – ZooConnect; Zoological Society of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisc.

Significant Achievement – Toronto Zoo's Great Lakes Program; Toronto Zoo, Toronto, Canada

Green Award:

Top Honors - Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, Neb.

Innovation Award - Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, Fla.

Excellence in Marketing Award

Top Honors - Our World Without: Save the Heart and Soul of the South Carolina Aquarium; South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, S.C.

Top Honors - Shedd Aquarium Recovery Campaign; John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Ill.

Significant Achievement - Calgary Zoo Daily & Weekly Dose Campaign; Calgary Zoological Society, Calgary, Canada

Significant Achievement - Tembo Camp; Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis, Ind.

Volunteer Engagement Award:

Significant Achievement – Calgary Zoo Volunteer Program; The Calgary Zoological Society, Calgary, Canada

Innovation Award - Docent-Led Virtual Field Trips (VFT); Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles, Calif.

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

African Safari Wildlife Park - Port Clinton, Ohio

Northeastern Wisconsin (NEW) Zoo – Green Bay, Wisc.

Rainforest and Aquarium at Moody Gardens - Galveston, Texas

The Wilds – Cumberland, Ohio

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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