AZA News Releases

AZA-Accredited Facilities Are Saving Species

New programs, new and updated plans, and continued impact punctuate Saving Animals From Extinction’s seventh year.

Silver Spring, Maryland (May 20, 2022) – For nearly five decades, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and its accredited facilities have been utilizing the tools of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to help protect endangered species. AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® was established in 2015 to harness AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums’ collective expertise, resources, and reach to save species and promote wildlife protection. Celebrating its seventh anniversary this Endangered Species Day, SAFE has expanded to 30 species and taxa threatened with extinction. Over 70 percent of AZA’s 239 accredited zoos and aquariums are working together to make a difference for an array of species protected under the US Endangered Species Act.

“Animals at home and around the world are benefiting from SAFE and the work of AZA-accredited aquariums, nature centers, science centers, and zoos,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of AZA. “Because of the AZA community, 1,000 tortoises confiscated from illegal trade are now rehabilitated and positioned for release back into the wild in collaboration with a community committed to protecting them in Madagascar. Additionally, over 35,000 corals have been out-planted in Florida and the Bahamas, and another nearly 65,000 endangered corals have been added to Caribbean reefs. SAFE programs are innovating to protect African penguins living in disturbed habitats in South Africa and working to decrease unintended and negative consequences of fishing gear on marine life in the Gulf of California. Knowledge gaps are being filled by monitoring flamingos in the Andean Highlands, vultures in Africa, and hornbills in southeast Asia. These efforts are saving animals from extinction and inspiring people to do even more.”

Even in the early days of the pandemic of 2020, when facilities were closed to the public for days, months, and weeks on end, AZA-accredited facilities remained committed to animal care, research, and conservation. According to AZA’s Annual Report on Conservation and Science, in 2020, AZA-accredited facilities invested nearly $210 million towards field conservation, and approximately 90 percent reported participation in conservation having a direct impact on animals and habitats in the wild.

AZA SAFE continues to grow, including through the creation of new SAFE species programs for chinchilla and African painted dog, and the publication of plans that outline how the AZA community is going to support species as diverse as sharks and rays around the world and tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea.

AZA and its members have long sought solutions that help people and wildlife thrive together. AZA’s 2022 Party for the Planet: Spring into Action campaign engages communities in actions that support healthy habitats for people and SAFE species like North American songbirds and monarch butterflies. This year focuses on three action areas: Clean, Create, and Connect. Whether your activities clean up trash, create native-species habitats, or connect you to nature, these actions make the earth a better place for plants, animals, and people alike.

To learn more about SAFE species and the projects AZA members are working on, visit and Join Us this Endangered Species Day as we Clean, Create, and Connect to healthy habitats.

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

About SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction

SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit


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