AZA News Releases

AZA Comments on File No. 22686, Chicago Zoological Society

Jolie Harrison
Chief, Permits and Conservation Division
Office of Protected Resources, NMFS
1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705
Silver Spring, MD 20910                                                                                                               

RE: File No. 22686, Chicago Zoological Society

Dear Ms. Harrison:

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the AZA Marine Mammal Taxonomic Advisory Group strongly support the permit request from the Chicago Zoological Society-Brookfield Zoo (CZS) to import three common bottlenose dolphins born at Dolphin Quest (DQ) Bermuda. Brookfield Zoo is an accredited facility of the AZA in good standing. The three dolphins referenced under this permit request are the result of a successful long-term breeding loan between DQ and CZS. Collaborative breeding programs such as these provide the opportunity for the dolphins to continue to reproduce and raise their young as a normal, enriching and important experience for the animals. Additionally, these responsible breeding loans contribute to genetic diversity and population sustainability for the greater zoo and aquarium community.

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. AZA's 233 accredited aquariums, nature centers, science centers and zoos annually host more than 195 million visitors, collectively generate more than $22 billion in annual economic activity, and support more than 208,000 jobs across the country. In 2017, AZA-accredited facilities spent $220 million on field conservation in 128 countries benefiting 863 species and subspecies. Within those 863 species and subspecies, 281 are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The millions of people that come through our doors each year to view our marine mammal ambassadors learn about the wonderful world of the sea and the fragility of its diverse ecosystems. We believe our message of respect, wonder and appreciation of the natural world contributes significantly to marine mammal conservation and management.

AZA’s Marine Mammal Taxon Advisory Group (MMTAG) advocates and facilitates the best care, welfare, and management of marine mammals in human care and promotes the conservation of wild populations worldwide. MMTAG’s goals include:

  1. Development of strategic breeding management strategies that maximize long-term potential of populations in human care, and where possible, promote sustainability.
  2. Development of animal care manuals for marine mammals to promote best practices for animal care, behavioral husbandry, welfare, and management.
  3. Foster working relationships with the US regulatory and permitting agencies and serve as a vector for agencies to communicate broad messaging to AZA institutions holding marine mammals.
  4. Recommend, maintain and update reference information on marine mammal management, care and welfare and serve as an information resource for AZA zoos and aquariums.
  5. Support and promote both in situ and ex situ research that will benefit the health of our collections, the world’s oceans, and marine mammals worldwide. Serve as a vector for researchers to communicate with AZA institutions holding marine mammals.
  6. Communicate and network with scientific community, government agencies, and non-governmental agencies to identify in situ and ex situ research, conservation, and education collaboration opportunities.
  7. Provide editorial content review of marine mammal conservation and education material generated by AZA for use by AZA institutions.
  8. Support activities for AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program specific to marine mammals.

AZA/AZA Marine Mammal TAG would like to strongly affirm and affiliate our organization with previous comments sent forward to NMFS from Dolphin Quest and the CZS-Brookfield Zoo regarding the merits of granting this important permit request.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment and we look forward to working with you and your dedicated staff in the future on this and many other fish and wildlife conservation initiatives.


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