AZA News Releases

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Association of Zoos and Aquariums Release Third Wave of Federal Reimbursement Funds for Endangered Species Care

Nearly $6.5 million in funds is on its way to 28 facilities.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are announcing nearly $6.5 million in the third wave of reimbursements under the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program, funded by the American Rescue Plan. The first two waves of reimbursements released nearly $11 million of the $30 million appropriated by Congress.

“The Service continues to work with longtime partner AZA to reimburse plant and animal care facilities in this third distribution of critical American Rescue Plan funding,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “These funds will help continue these institutions’ high-quality efforts to protect the nation’s imperiled species.”

“So far, this partnership has delivered nearly $20 million in federal reimbursement funds to facilities that answered the call to care for endangered species during the pandemic. Working with Congress and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we are proud to help provide this crucial assistance to these facilities. We know the recipients are very grateful,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2), Congress recognized the dedication of zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, and other facilities across the nation in helping save animals and plants from extinction by appropriating $30 million to reimburse expenses related to the care of captive species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as rescued and confiscated wildlife that are at risk of extinction.

Additional facilities receiving reimbursement funds include:

  • Arizona – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, $114,609; OdySea Aquarium, $151,580
  • California – Los Angeles Zoo, $1,000,000; The Marine Mammal Center, $274,189; San Diego Zoo, $1,000,000; SeaWorld San Diego, $342,337; Sequoia Park Zoo, $11,469; University of California Botanical Gardens, $21,435
  • Florida – Brevard Zoo, $317,858; Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, $38,941; Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), $66,226; Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, $7,066; Gulf Specimen Marine Lab & Aquarium, $25,108; SeaWorld of Florida, $447,020;
  • Georgia – Zoo Atlanta, $15,227
  • Hawaii – National Tropical Botanical Gardens, $25,114; Sea Life Park Hawaii, $48,392
  • Idaho – Zoo Boise, $3,371
  • Illinois – Chicago Zoological Society, $171,933
  • Louisiana – Audubon Nature Institute, $523,349
  • Montana – Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, $37,083
  • North Carolina – Museum of Life and Science, $75,322
  • Ohio – The Wilds, $3,603
  • Oklahoma – Oklahoma City Zoo, $59,928
  • Oregon – Oregon Zoo, $459,655
  • Texas – Sea Turtle Incorporated, $732,301; SeaWorld San Antonio, $170,387

Funds released today will be directed toward reimbursing 28 facilities for expenses such as:

  • Food.
  • Veterinary care/medicine.
  • Direct animal/plant care staff time.
  • Life-support systems.
  • Transport for medical, reintroduction into the wild, and captive breeding purposes.
  • Real property debt and holding space improvements/modifications.
  • Utilities essential for the care of species (e.g., electricity/gas/natural gas to power essential services).

Zoos, aquariums, and other facilities work alongside the federal government to support recovery programs, rehabilitate injured animals, care for confiscated wildlife, and help save endangered species from extinction, including manatees, sea turtles, black-footed ferrets, California condors, Florida corals, Mexican wolves, red wolves, northern and southern sea otters, Eastern indigo snakes, Wyoming toad and many others.

Additional information about the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program can be found on AZA’s website at /endangered-species-covid-funding                         

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page

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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