AZA News Releases

AZA Selects Nine Projects to Receive Conservation Grant Funding with Support from the Disney Conservation Fund

Grants totaling just under $220K will support research and conservation initiatives around the world

Silver Spring, Maryland (October 31, 2022) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has awarded Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) grants totaling $219,432 to nine research and conservation projects led by AZA members.

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

"Despite the tremendous challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, AZA-accredited facilities have continued their passionate dedication to wildlife and nature conservation through the work they do all around the world," said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. "I am thankful for the generous support of the Disney Conservation Fund, which supports funding for many outstanding conservation projects. Congratulations to this year's recipients!"

After a competitive review of 15 applications, nine projects were chosen to be funded for 2022. 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 and by individual AZA members working at non-profit organizations, government agencies, and universities. All of the proposals benefit species supported by AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) ® program.

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

AZA congratulates the 2022 CGF recipients:

Auditors, Birds & Coffee: The ABC's of Increasing Songbird Conservation Capacity through Blended Learning
Ruth Bennett, PhD and Kirstin Hill, Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Biologging for Conservation – Using Heart Rate Monitoring to Understand how Environmental Change Affects Jaguars
Nucharin Songsasen, PhD, Rosana Moraes, PhD, Peter Leimgruber, PhD, and Jared Stabach, PhD, Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute
Timothy Laske, PhD, Medtronic, Inc.
Ronaldo Morato, PhD, Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade

Developing a Training Workshop for Safe Handling of Sharks and Rays for the Aquarium and Research Community
Hans Walters, New York Aquarium, Wildlife Conservation Society
Lisa Hoopes, PhD, Georgia Aquarium
Linda Penfold, PhD, South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation

Improving Red Wolf Sperm Cryo-resistance: Characterization and Effect of Seminal Plasma Proteins
Jennifer Nagashima, PhD and Nucharin Songsasen, PhD, Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute

Is Poisoning the Major Threat to Scavenging Raptors in Northern Kenya?
Darcy Ogada, PhD, The Peregrine Fund

Mitigating Chimpanzee-Human Conflict in Kibale National Park, Uganda
Kevin Langergraber, PhD, John Mitani, PhD, Sam Angedakin, and Salmah Djombera, Ngogo Chimpanzee Project
Corinne Kendall, PhD, North Carolina Zoo

Saving African Penguins in Namibia - Halifax Island Project
Jess Phillips, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Nicola Stander and Katta Ludyna, PhD, Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB)

Saving the Vaquita: Using Diffusion of Innovation Models to Further Sustainable Fishing in the Upper Gulf of California
James Danoff-Burg, PhD, The Living Desert
Estelle Sandhaus, PhD, Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
David Bader, Marine Mammal Care Center

Short-tailed Chinchilla Conservation Project
Guillermo Cubillos, Zoológico Nacional de Chile
Daniel Hilliard, PhD, Zoo Conservation Outreach Group (ZCOG)
Seth Stapleton, PhD, Minnesota Zoo
Ignacio Collin Vidal, Zoológico Nacional de Chile
Pablo Valladares, PhD, Universidad de Tarapacá

Between 1991 and 2022, the CGF provided more than $8.5 million to 459 projects worldwide. These funds are raised through marketing partnerships, and private and corporate contributions, including long-time support from the Disney Conservation Fund.

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 non-profit 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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