AZA News Releases

AZA Awards Grant Funding to Conservation Projects

SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® granting program encourages collaboration to save species.

Silver Spring, Md. (March 10, 2022) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is helping to drive over $580,000 to five conservation projects led by AZA members in the third year of the SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction® (SAFE) granting program.

“SAFE species programs and their projects are a globally collaborative effort,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “By working together, we can create the scale and momentum needed to save animals from extinction. It is reassuring and reason to be hopeful. Congratulations to this year’s recipients!”

Established in 2019 with initial funding from the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation, AZA’s SAFE granting program brings funds to AZA members implementing program plans that advance species recovery. In 2021, the JoEllen Doornbos Endowment was established to fund the program and AZA members’ cooperative conservation programs in perpetuity. Applicants commit at least 50% in matching funds, and preference is given to proposals that emphasize collaboration with multiple AZA members.

Eight of 30 eligible SAFE species programs submitted a proposal for review and judges selected five projects to receive funding totaling over $206,000 in grants. With the addition of nearly $375,000 in matching funds, a total of over $580,000 will advance SAFE species program priorities and help vulnerable species. Fourteen AZA members and eleven additional non-governmental organizations, government agencies, schools, and universities will partner to complete these projects.

AZA congratulates this year’s SAFE granting program recipients:

Andean Highland Flamingos Conservation Monitoring Program
Guillermo Cubillos Torres, Zoológico Nacional de Chile
Daniel Hilliard, PhD, Zoo Conservation Outreach Group
Sue Tygielski, PhD, Reid Park Zoo
Additional Collaborator: Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF)

Creation of National Vulture Action Plans for Kenya and Tanzania
Corinne Kendall, PhD, North Carolina Zoo
Darcy Ogada, PhD, The Peregrine Fund
Additional Collaborators: Nature Kenya, Wildlife Research and Training Institute

Expanding Capacity for Confiscated Turtles in the Greater New York Region
Dave Collins, Turtle Survival Alliance
Matt Allender, DVM, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo; University of Illinois
Additional Collaborators: New England Aquarium, Zoo New England, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Staten Island Zoo, Zoo Knoxville, Bristol County Agricultural High School, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center     

SAFE and Sound: Creating a Safe Future and Sustainable Population for Tree Kangaroos
Lisa Dabek, PhD and Beth Carlyle-Askew, Woodland Park Zoo
Kathy Russell, Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo
Additional Collaborators: Port Moresby Nature Park, Zoo Miami

The Development and Enhancement of a Standardized Registry to Identify, Monitor, and Manage the Sumatran Elephant Population Under Human Care in Sumatra
Adam Felts, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Additional Collaborators: Center for Wildlife Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Syiah Kuala University

SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction is AZA’s collective commitment to conservation and is delivering strategic conservation to recover and protect imperiled species by implementing recovery plans for the world’s most threatened species. SAFE’s growth, momentum, and scope are described in its 2020 Annual Report, A Shared Commitment to Conservation.

Anyone can help save animals from extinction! Join us as AZA raises $1 million to double the size of JoEllen Doornbos Endowment and support projects like these into the future by donating to SAFE 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 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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