AZA News Releases

Statement by AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy Regarding Georgia Aquarium's Beluga Whale Plans

“The Georgia Aquarium meets or exceeds all Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditations Standards. At the Georgia Aquarium, these high standards ensure that: the animals get the best care; there are significant wildlife conservation and research programs; there are effective science education programs; and the guests receive a safe, fun, educational experience. 

AZA Accreditation Standards, in addition to federal law, allow for the responsible, humane collection of animals for aquariums and zoological parks. In fact, AZA’s Acquisition and Disposition Policy specifically acknowledges the necessity of acquiring wild-caught specimens. AZA’s policy states, ‘When acquiring animals from the wild, careful consideration must be taken to evaluate the long-term impacts on the wild population. Any capture of free-ranging animals should be done in accordance with all local, state, federal, and international wildlife laws and regulations and not be detrimental to the long-term viability of the species or the wild or captive population(s).’ 

The Georgia Aquarium’s plan to import beluga whales clearly adheres to these requirements, and we urge that it be approved. Bringing animals into zoological institutions that meet AZA Accreditation Standards provides them with enriching habitats and state-of-the-art care. It also ensures that the animals will support the overarching vision of all AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos – a world where, as a result of their work, all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places.” 

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, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA 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 global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit

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