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:
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.