AZA News Releases

Association of Zoos and Aquariums Announces 2022 Honors and Awards Recipients

Silver Spring, MD (September 20, 2022) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized the achievements of 18 AZA member facilities in the fields of conservation, education, research, exhibit and facility design, marketing, diversity, research, and volunteer engagement during the 2022 AZA Annual Conference held in late August in Baltimore, Md. It also awarded the highest honor in professional excellence bestowed by the Association, the R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence.

“To win one of these awards an AZA-accredited aquarium or zoo must reach the very pinnacle of achievement,” said Dan Ashe, president and chief executive officer at AZA.  “From the South Carolina Aquarium to the Cali Zoo in Colombia, the range and breadth of talent on display is impressive, and a testament to the professionalism and commitment of all involved. Each facility recognized here is committed to saving wildlife and wild places and enriching their respective communities.”

This year also saw the establishment of a new award, the AZA Facilities Award. This award recognizes excellence in the design and construction of a facility that supports the mission of an AZA-accredited facility.

“In a rapidly changing world, Zoos and aquariums continue to adapt and innovate,” said Sue Chin, Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect, at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Chair, AZA Honors and Awards Committee. “This year’s award-winning projects exemplify excellence across the whole profession and are critical to advancing the field and our collective mission.”

The 2022 Honors and Awards recipients are as follows:

R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence:
Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif.

William G. Conway International Conservation Award:
Top Honors – North Carolina Zoo’s UNITE for the Environment (UNITE) in Uganda; North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, N.C.

Exhibit Award:
Top Honors – Por el Camino de los Andes or “Along the Andes Trail;” Fundacion Zoolgica de Cali – Cali Zoo, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Top Honors – South America’s Pantanal; Houston Zoo, Inc., Houston, Tx.
Top Honors – Zoo Knoxville’s Clayton Family Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Campus (ARC Campus); Zoo Knoxville, Knoxville, Tenn.
Significant Achievement – Owen Sea Lions Shores; Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, Neb.

Facility Award:
Top Honors – Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership; Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, Calif. 

Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award:
Top Honors – Morton Family Exhibit; Nashville Zoo, Nashville, Tenn.

Education Award:
Top Honors – Toddler Time; Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Dayton, Ohio
Significant Achievement – Virtual Zoo Pals; Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles, Calif.
Top Honors – You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Increasing Representation in Conservation Science Stories; WCS / Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Significant Achievement – Wildlife Action Crew; Seneca Park Zoo Society, Rochester, N.Y.
Significant Achievement – Inclusion Initiatives Project: The Importance of Inclusive Education; Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Research Award:
Top Honors – Integrating genetics, behaviour, and ecology to align with a novel stepping-stone approach for Vancouver Island Marmots and other critically endangered species; Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Excellence in Marketing Award
Top Honors – Wild Asia; Akron Zoo, Akron, Ohio
Top Honors – This Is How We Zoo; Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Wash.
Significant Achievement – “Just ZOO It;” Memphis Zoological Society, Memphis, Tenn.
Significant Achievement – Aquarium Aglow; South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, S.C.

Volunteer Engagement Award:
Top Honors – Covid Can’t Curb Conservation Connections; San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, San Diego, Calif.

Quarter Century Award (for 25 years of continuous AZA accreditation):
Brevard Zoo; Melbourne, Fla.
Dallas World Aquarium; Dallas, Tx.
The Florida Aquarium; Tampa, Fla.
Hutchinson Zoo; Hutchinson, Kan.

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

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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