AZA News Releases

AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance Gains Momentum to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and Woodland Park Zoo Partner with WTA for Fourth Consecutive Year

Silver Spring, MD (March 23, 2022) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) celebrates its fourth year since acquiring the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (WTA) in 2018, which has experienced significant partnership growth and momentum thanks to the support of its Platinum Partners: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and Woodland Park Zoo.

WTA is now a powerful coalition of nearly 90 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, companies, and NGOs, that combines its resources, expertise, and public reach to end illegal wildlife trade. WTA’s three-year goals include:

  1. Reducing consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products;
  2. Advancing laws, regulations, and policies that reduce illegal wildlife trade; and
  3. Providing a cooperative and coordinated response for the care and welfare of wildlife confiscated from illegal trade.

WTA’s goals are complementary to AZA’s mission of engaging and educating the public to respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places. 

“Wildlife trafficking remains a major threat to the survival of thousands of species globally, from American box turtles to elephants and tigers. AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance is working with AZA members and partners to end illegal wildlife trade,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “WTA’s Platinum Partners—Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and Woodland Park Zoo—are steadfast in their commitment to combat wildlife trafficking and we are honored to have their support.”

“Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is securing a future for wildlife around the world by tackling today’s most pressing conservation threats and addressing the complex human-wildlife issues that are key to the long-term survival of wildlife and habitats—including wildlife trafficking,” said Christopher Kuhar, Executive Director, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. “Wildlife trafficking is a global crisis, and working right here in the United States is critical for international efforts to combat it. The Zoo is proud to be a platinum partner of the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and a member of this active coalition working together to reduce the purchase and sale of illegal wildlife and wildlife products.”

“The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to continue supporting AZA's Wildlife Trafficking Alliance as a Platinum Partner," said Denise M. Verret, CEO & zoo director of the Los Angeles Zoo. "Wildlife trafficking continues to act as a significant global threat to both humans and wildlife. Our Zoo has committed to increasing our ongoing efforts to combat wildlife trade, selecting this threat as one of the six focal areas of our new Conservation Strategic Plan, including actions to amplify the voices and efforts of our partners at the WTA and developing new initiatives to educate the public about their role in stopping this trade with the intention of co-creating a world where people and wildlife thrive, together.”

“We are honored to be a Platinum Partner of the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance and continue our collective work to safeguard wildlife across the globe. Together, we can meet the challenges facing wildlife and significantly reduce wildlife trafficking,” said Paul Baribault, President and CEO of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “We will continue to be there for wildlife when we receive the call and propel our social scientific innovations to educate our allies for wildlife on the steps they can take to ensure their choices continue to create a world where all life thrives.”

“A hair clip made from a tortoise shell. A belt made from a pangolin. A souvenir ivory sculpture from an elephant tusk. Wildlife trafficking isn’t just about smuggling tigers as pets, it’s about the things we buy and the true price of that trinket,” said Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Alejandro Grajal. “These irreplaceable species are priceless. We are proud to be part of the AZA Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, but we know this movement is so much bigger than just us. It’s every savvy traveler, curious schoolkid and compassionate community member taking steps to reduce demand and save species. It's all of us working together. The animals are relying on us.”

Additional information about WTA and a full list of partners is available on AZA’s Wildlife Trafficking Alliance website

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 12 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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