AZA News Releases

AZA Selects 17 Projects Led By AZA Members to Receive Conservation Grant Funding

Grants totaling over $350K will support research and conservation initiatives around the world

SILVER SPRING, Md. –The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has awarded Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) grants totaling $355,000 to 17 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 state, federal and international wildlife agencies, academia and other conservation organizations.

 “The Conservation Grants Fund provides direct support to AZA members who are working to achieve AZA’s mission of protecting wildlife and wild places,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The grants support critical research, conservation, and education projects that benefit endangered and vulnerable species around the world.”

Since 1991, the CGF has provided nearly $7.7 million to over 400 projects worldwide. These funds are raised through private and corporate contributions, including long-time support from the Disney Conservation Fund. In addition to Disney, contributors to the 2018 grant awards include Stonyfield, Inc. and Baby Jogger LLC. 

After a competitive review of 64 applications, 17 projects were chosen to be funded for 2018. This year’s awards span the globe, include 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 and universities. Ten of the proposals benefit species supported by AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program.

Publications resulting from grant recipient projects are available on AZA’s website.

AZA congratulates the 2018 Conservation Grants Fund recipients:

Addressing Critical Needs of Poachers to Conserve Mountain Gorillas and the Greater Biodiversity of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Tara Stoinski, PhD, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
Kristen Lukas, PhD, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Advancing Ex Situ Lemur Conservation, Management and Welfare in Madagascar: A Partnership with the Government of Madagascar
Andrea Katz and Sarah Zehr, PhD, Duke Lemur Center

Carrion for Vultures: A Wildlife Conservation Project to Protect Botswana’s Vultures
Erin Stotz, Denver Zoological Foundation
Glyn Maude, PhD, Raptors Botswana

Collaborating to Improve Conservation Efforts for the Critically Endangered Cuban Crocodile
Lauren Augustine, Saint Louis Zoo
Kevin Torregrosa, Bronx Zoo – Wildlife Conservation Society
Sharon Deem, DVM, PhD, DACZM, Saint Louis Zoo
Kyle Miller, Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Effects of Socialization on Behavioral, Physiologic and Reproductive Parameters of Bull Asian Elephants
Anneke Moresco, DVM, PhD, and Sharon Joseph, Denver Zoo
Janine Brown, PhD, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Genetic Monitoring of the Endangered Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit
Lisette Waits, PhD and Stacey Nerkowski, University of Idaho

Grassland Butterfly Conservation Program
Stephen Petersen, PhD, Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Health and Stress Physiology of White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in the North Atlantic: Enhancing Global Conservation Efforts with Field Research
Michael Hyatt, DVM and Alisa Newton VMD, DACVP, New York Aquarium – Wildlife Conservation Society

Impacts of Ecotourism on Endangered Iguanas and Their Habitat in the Bahamas
Charles Knapp, PhD, John G. Shedd Aquarium

Impacts of Underwater Noise on Mother-Calf Communication in Endangered Beluga Whales
Valeria Vergara, PhD, Ocean Wise Conservation Association (formerly, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre)

Monitoring Endangered Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda
Laura Peirson, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Monitoring of Health and Welfare in the Endangered African Penguin Through Fecal Glucorticoid and Microbiome Analysis
Maureen Driscoll, PhD, Tracy Romano, PhD, and Allison Tuttle, DVM, DACZM, Sea Research Foundation Inc. d/b/a Mystic Aquarium

Saving Vultures in Southern Tanzania
Corinne Kendall, PhD North Carolina Zoo

Skin Disease Diagnosis and Management for Nubian Giraffes in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
Liza Dadone, VMD, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Priya Bapodra-Villaverde, DACZM, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Sushan Han, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Colorado State University
Patricia Dennis, DVM, PhD, DACZM, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The Coexistence Co-Op: Improving Coexistence Between People and Wildlife in Northern Kenya
Darcy Ogada, PhD, The Peregrine Fund
Ann Knutson, San Diego Zoo

Understanding Endocrine Control of Ovarian Function for Improved Reproduction in Captive Whooping Cranes
Nucharin Songsasen, DVM, PhD, Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Using Mutual Mate Choice to Improve Reproductive Success in the Black-footed Ferret
Rachel Santymire, PhD, and Emily Potratz, Lincoln Park Zoo

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 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

Posted by Ashley Jones at 12:30 PM

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