AZA News Releases

AZA Announces Recipients of Animal Program Leader Awards and Outstanding Service Awards

Silver Spring, MD – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has recognized 15 exemplary professionals within the zoo and aquarium community with Animal Program Leader Recognition Awards, and 18 individuals who have made exceptional contributions as leaders with Outstanding Service Awards at the Association’s recent Annual Conference.“AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos are important centers for conservation within local communities and collaboratively work to have a positive impact across the globe,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “Each of these award recipients has contributed greatly to these wildlife conservation initiatives through leadership, dedication, and passion and is extremely deserving of this recognition.”

The lists of award recipients are as follows:

Animal Program Leader Recognition Awards

Animal Program Leader Recognition – 30 Years of Service

Frederick Beall, Franklin Park Zoo

Wattled Crane Studbook Keeper

Dennis Meritt, Jr., PhD

Chacoan Peccary SSP Coordinator

Peter Siminski, The Living Desert

Mexican Gray Wolf Studbook Keeper

Mark Warneke, Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo

Callimico Studbook Keeper

Animal Program Leader Recognition – 25 Years of Service

Elizabeth Bahner, Philadelphia Zoo

Geoffroy’s Marmoset Studbook Keeper

Elizabeth Bahner, Philadelphia Zoo

Micronesian Kingfisher SSP Coordinator

Gail Brandt, Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo

Humboldt Penguin Studbook Keeper

Mark Myers, Woodland Park Zoo

Laughing Kookaburra SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper

Animal Program Leader Recognition – 20 Years of Service

Linda Bachers, Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens

Yellow-Backed Duiker SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper

Dr. Andrew Baker, PhD, Philadelphia Zoo

Pied (Bicolor) Tamarin SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper

Michael Macek, Saint Louis Zoo


mes TAG Chair

Deborah Olson, International Elephant Foundation

African Elephant Studbook Keeper

Steven Sarro, Smithsonian National Zoological Park

African Penguin SSP Coordinator

Thomas Schneider, Detroit Zoo

European White Stork SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper

Thomas Schneider, Detroit Zoo

Penguin TAG Chair

Outstanding Service Awards (Including Retiring Committee Chairs)

Danny Morris Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Steve Martin Steve Martin's Natural Encounters, Inc.

Don Moore Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Beth Branning San Diego Zoo Global

Robin Keith San Diego Zoo Global

Jackie Ogden Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Kris Vehrs Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Paul Boyle Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Retiring Committee Chairs

Jim Anderson

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

Chair of the Accreditation Commission

2014 – 2015

Pam Dennis

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Chair of the Animal Health Committee 

2010 - 2015

Christopher Kuhar, PhD

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee

2014 – 2015

Dale Schmidt

National Aquarium

Chair of the Business Operations Committee

2007 – 2015

Dwight Scott

San Diego Zoo Global

Chair of the Ethics Board

2014 – 2015

Rick Barongi

Chair of the Honors and Awards Committee

2009 – 2015

David Brady

Houston Zoo

Chair of the Marketing Committee

2013 - 2015

John Chapo

Lincoln Children’s Zoo

Chair of the Membership Committee

2011 – 2015

Chris Gentile

Western North Carolina Nature Center

Chair of the Professional Development Committee

2014 – 2015

Tammy Rach

San Diego Zoo Global

Chair of the Volunteer Management Committee

2013 - 2015

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 seven 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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