AZA News Releases

AZA-Accredited Facilities Continue Commitment to Saving Species, Even During a Global Pandemic

AZA member facilities help create two new programs in the past year.

Silver Spring, Maryland (May 21, 2021) – For more than a year, the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the daily operations of Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums, but it has not stopped their commitment to animal care, research, and conservation. In 2019, AZA invested over $230 million towards field conservation, and over 90 percent reported participation in conservation having a direct impact on animals and habitats in the wild.

Since 2016, individuals concerned with the growing number of endangered species has increased from 64 percent to 72 percent in 2020. The protection of endangered species is at the core of the AZA’s mission. AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® was established in 2015 to harness the collective expertise, resources, and reach of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to save species and promote wildlife protection. Celebrating its sixth anniversary this Endangered Species Day, SAFE has expanded to 29 species and taxa threatened with extinction. Over 70 percent of AZA’s 241 accredited zoos and aquariums are working together to make a difference for an array of species protected under the US Endangered Species Act.

“To say 2020 was unlike any other year is quite an understatement. Nearly everything in our lives has changed,” said Dan Ashe, CEO and President of AZA. “One thing that has not changed is our shared commitment to conservation and saving species around the world. SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction represents our shared commitment to conservation, and I believe the program is more critical than ever. SAFE is our means to successful collaborative conservation among our community.”

Demonstrating that continued commitment has been the creation of four new SAFE species programs since January 2020: American turtle, Asian hornbill, the tree kangaroos of Papua New Guinea, and African painted dog. These four programs are led and supported by 23 AZA member organizations working with over 25 field partners.

Common challenges face the animals benefitting from the work of SAFE species programs. The six major threats facing these animals include habitat loss and degradation, illegal hunting and collecting, climate change, the spread and outbreaks of non-native and problematic species and pathogens, pollution, and unsustainable fisheries.

AZA and its members have long sought solutions that reduce the negative impacts of these threats. This spring, they are raising awareness among the public through a coordinated social media campaign that highlights the SAFE species programs, the challenges facing them, and what we all can do so that people and wildlife can thrive together.

“AZA-accredited facilities are mission-driven organizations committed to saving species and motivating the public to act with purpose,” said Bert Castro, President and CEO of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation and Phoenix Zoo, and Chair of the AZA Board of Directors. “As our signature conservation program, SAFE is one way we can act collectively, both locally and internationally. By taking targeted actions together, we can make a difference.”

AZA’s 2021 Party for the Planet: Spring into Action campaign engages the public in actions that support healthy habitats for people,  SAFE species, and all communities and wildlife. This year focuses on three action areas: Clean, Create and Connect. Whether your activities are clean-ups, creating native-species habitats, or connecting 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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