AZA News Releases

AZA Selects 13 Projects to Receive Conservation Grant Funding

Grants totaling just over $275K will support research and conservation initiatives around the world

Silver Spring, Maryland (September 23, 2020) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has awarded Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) grants totaling $275,056 to 13 research and conservation projects led by AZA members.

Established in 1984, the AZA Conservation Grants Fund is a competitive grants program that supports the cooperative conservation-related scientific and educational initiatives of AZA members and their partners. Major areas of funding for conservation and animal care are represented, including research, field conservation, education and outreach, animal welfare, animal health and animal management. Many Conservation Grants Fund projects are collaborations among AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and governmental wildlife agencies, academia and other conservation organizations.

“Despite a global pandemic and declining revenues, AZA-accredited facilities continue to work tirelessly on conservation projects around the world,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “Investment in conservation will likely decline in 2021, so I am grateful we have supporters such as the Disney Conservation Fund to help assure we can continue to support critical field conservation projects. There is no doubt AZA members remain focused on making this a better world for people and wildlife.”

Since 1991, the CGF has provided more than $8 million to over 440 projects worldwide. These funds are raised through marketing partnerships, and private and corporate contributions, including long-time support from the Disney Conservation Fund.

After a competitive review of 70 applications, 13 projects were chosen to be funded for 2020. This year’s awards span the globe, will benefit an array of taxonomic groups, and will be implemented by staff at AZA member facilities of all sizes, as well as by individual AZA members working at non-profit organizations, government agencies, and universities. Seven of the proposals benefit species supported by AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) ® program. Publications resulting from previous grant recipients’ projects are available on AZA’s website.

Making funding recommendations this year was particularly difficult. Many excellent submissions were reviewed. In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and all of the resultant challenges, AZA members are committed to helping people and wildlife thrive together and these projects exemplify this commitment.

AZA congratulates the 2020 Conservation Grants Fund recipients:

Andean Highland Flamingos Conservation Monitoring Program
Daniel Hilliard, PhD, Zoo Conservation Outreach Group
Guillermo Cubillos Torres, Zoológico Nacional de Chile

Characterization of Sand Tiger Shark Enclosure Use and Behavior to Understand Wellbeing and Reproduction
Lara Metrione, PhD and Nancy Ho, South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation (SEZARC)
Carol Price, PhD, North Carolina Aquariums

Expanding the Coexistence Co-op: Mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflict to Protect Vultures and Lions
Darcy Ogada, PhD, The Peregrine Fund
Alayne Cotterill, PhD, Lion Landscapes

Identifying Conservation Priorities for the Critically Endangered Large-Antlered Muntjac, Muntiacus vuquangensis, in One of its Last Strongholds
Michelle Hatwood, Audubon Nature Institute’s Freeport McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center

Ngogo Chimpanzee Project Snare Removal Program
Kevin Langergraber, PhD, Arizona State University
John Mitani, PhD and Samuel Angedakin, Ngogo Chimpanzee Project, Inc.

Proudly Serving Biodiversity: Unifying the AZA to Demand Bird Friendly Coffee
Justine Bowe and Ruth Bennett, PhD, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park

Reintroducing the Madagascar Pochard to Establish a Self-Sustaining Population on a Community-Managed Lake
Leslie Wilmet, PhD, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Spatial Requirements for Conservation Management of Imperiled Queen Conch Using No-Take Reserves
Andrew Sebastian Kough, PhD, John G. Shedd Aquarium

Spreading Our Range: Expanding Vulture Conservation Efforts from Tanzania to Zambia
Corinne Kendall, PhD, North Carolina Zoo

Sulu Hornbill Conservation Project
Roger Sweeney, North Carolina Zoo

Understanding and Improving Disease Outcomes during Reintroductions of an Endangered California Amphibian
Talisin Hammond, PhD, Debra Shier, PhD, and Candace Williams, PhD, Zoological Society of San Diego

Use of Un-Baited Camera Trapping to Assess Threats, Survival and Recruitment to Restored Grand Cayman Blue Iguana Population in the Salina Reserve
Frederic Burton, Cayman Islands Department of Environment
Christine Proctor, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

Emergency Action to Reduce the Impact of Yellow Fever on Golden Lion Tamarins in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest
Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Zoo Atlanta

Anyone may support next year’s conservation projects by donating online 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 eleven 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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