AZA News Releases

AZA Zoos and Aquariums Contribute $24 Billion to U.S. Economy

Silver Spring, Md. – AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums around the country generate significant economic benefits locally, regionally and nationally, according to a new analysis conducted by nationally recognized economist, Dr. Stephen Fuller, for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The 215 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in the U.S. serve more than 183 million annual visitors and support over 212,000 jobs, generating $24 billion in the total value of goods and services generated directly and indirectly as a result of annual outlays by AZA members and their visitors.

“AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are important economic assets as well as conservation centers,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “Not only are AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums deeply committed to science education and saving species, but they generate jobs and support local communities by attracting millions of visitors each year.”

According to the report, these economic impacts include: contributions to the local, state,

national and international economies that enlarge their respective values of goods and services they produce (i.e., gross domestic product), new personal earnings (labor income—salaries and wages) that accrue to workers residing in the host jurisdictions, and jobs that are supported across the breadth of the local, state and national economies as the initial direct spending by the zoos and aquariums is re-spent and re-cycled in the form of indirect and induced business activities and payroll disbursements.

“Annual spending by zoos and aquariums for operations and capital projects generate significant economic benefits for their host jurisdictions, confirming the overall magnitude of AZA members’ importance to the U.S. economy,” said Fuller, Director of the Stephen S. Fuller Institute for Research on the Washington Region’s Economic Future at George Mason University.

The economic impacts of this direct spending in 2018 can be highlighted as follows:

  • The direct outlays by U.S. AZA members for operations and construction of $4.9 billion in 2018 contributed a total of $14.5 billion to U.S. GDP
  • This direct spending generated $4.5 billion in new personal earnings to the benefit of workers residing in the U.S. and supported 119,570 full-time, year-round equivalent jobs across all sectors of the U. S. economy
  • The before-and-after-visit visitor spending, estimated to total $2.9 billion, added an additional $8.0 billion to GDP, generated $2.5 billion in new personal earnings and supported 78,673 full-time, year-round equivalent jobs nationwide; and,
  • The total contribution of AZA members to the U.S. economy in 2018, based on direct outlays totaling $7.8 billion, was $22.5 billion, generating personal earnings totaling $7.0 billion and supporting 198,243 full-time, year-round equivalent jobs.

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 11 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 13:00
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