AZA News Releases

First-ever Elephant Welfare in Zoos Studies Published by Scientific Journal PLOS ONE

Silver Spring, MD – Today, the scientific journal PLOS ONE released a series of peer-reviewed scientific articles on elephants in North American zoos. The study was originally funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, and included zoos which are members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Following the release of the digital collection of articles, AZA released the following statement:

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its members which have the privilege of caring for elephants take their welfare and care very seriously. That is why, in 2011, the AZA Board of Directors adopted new accreditation standards specifically regarding elephants. Since that time, the AZA Accreditation Commission has continued to review those standards and improve them when possible.

The AZA applauds the well-rounded, scientific works of the study authors. It is anticipated their reasoned findings will contribute to the evolution of elephant management practices at AZA-accredited zoos, and will be incorporated into the AZA elephant accreditation standards as appropriate in the future.

It is also important to note that members of the AZA are very involved in elephant conservation efforts, contributing over $5.8 million to elephant conservation field projects between 2010 and 2014. In addition, the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program has selected Asian elephants as one of its 10 Signature Species, which will combine the power of the 183 million annual visitors with the expertise and resources of AZA members and partners to work on saving Asian elephants from extinction. AZA and its members are also strong supporters of 96 Elephants, which seeks to educate the public on how the demand for ivory is leading to the senseless slaughter of 96 elephants per day in Africa, and what actions they can take to stop the demand.

You can learn more about AZA, elephants and conservation efforts at these websites:

Elephants and AZA accreditation:

AZA members and elephant conservation:

AZA SAFE and Asian Elephants:

96 Elephants:  

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 seven 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

About SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction

SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit

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