AZA News Releases

AZA Announces Recipients of Zoo-Park Partnership Grants Benefitting North American Conservation Projects

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is proud to announce five AZA-accredited facilities have been selected as America’s Keystone Wildlife™ (AKW) grant recipients for 2018. Made possible by a Thoresen Foundation gift to AZA, these five $10,000 grants will be used to conduct conservation activities benefitting North American species on public lands as a part of Zoo-Park Partnerships, an initiative designed to unite zoos and National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Forests and Grasslands (“parks”) in restoring sustainable habitats and wildlife populations.

Zoo-Park Partnerships (ZPPs) help America recover the wildlife legacy lost during the Fur Trade and Westward Expansion era of U.S. history and improve wildlife population health, genetic integrity and habitat in ways that also benefit local communities on public lands today. Zoos and parks also provide opportunities for inspired visitors to participate in “citizen stewardship” volunteer work that directly improves habitats and quality of life for AKW animals.  The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) is a primary AKW Project partner.

“The collaborations between AZA, our member zoos and aquariums, and government entities enable us to protect our nation’s native wildlife and wild places,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of AZA. “These partnerships have led to the successful recovery and reintroduction of American bison, black-footed ferrets, and other species once on the verge of extinction in our own backyards.”

The 2018 Grant Recipients include:
• Blank Park Zoo, partnering with Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
• Dakota Zoo, partnering with Theodore Roosevelt National Park
• El Paso Zoo, partnering with Big Bend National Park
• Naples Zoo, partnering with Big Cypress National Preserve
• Red River Zoo, partnering with Wind Cave National Park

“Wildlife are a vital part of the historical landscape our National Parks and Refuges sustain and interpret. Partnerships with AZA zoos build capacity for restoring healthy wildlife populations and habitats and provide a key platform to share this important story of stewardship with zoo and park visitors alike,” said Julie Anton Randall, ZPP's for AKW Project Leader.

All AZA-accredited facilities are eligible to receive funding. Successful grant recipients demonstrate ZPP plans centered on field conservation, interpretation, and/or citizen stewardship in line with the goals of the America’s Keystone Wildlife™ (AKW) Project.

For more information about Zoo-Park Partnerships, please contact Amy Rutherford, Director of Professional Development & Education at

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 eight 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 the AKW Project Leader

 In 2017, Julie Anton Randall worked with AZA and member zoos and the National Park, Wildlife Refuge, and Forest systems to envision and craft the Zoo-Park Partnerships concept. The America’s Keystone Wildlife™ legacy concept derives from her work for Wildlife Conservation Society coordinating the national coalition that involved 35 zoos and achieved passage of the National Bison Legacy Act designating our National Mammal in 2016. Prior, Julie was Facilitator of the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Wilderness and Protected Areas Conservation, composed of the NPS, USFWS, and Bureau of Land Management directors and Forest Service Chief, focused on increasing habitat resiliency across jurisdictional units. From 2004-2006, Julie managed the North American Save the Rhinos Campaign engaging over 90 zoos. Since 2000, she has provided conservation planning and fundraising services to over 20 non-profit organizations.

Posted by Ashley Jones at 9:00 AM
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