AZA News Releases

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Association of Zoos and Aquariums Award Federal Reimbursement Funds for Endangered Species Care During Pandemic

April 4, 2022 - Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are announcing distribution of the first wave of awards – a total of more than $1.6 million – under the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program, funded by the American Rescue Plan.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, 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.

“The Service is pleased to work with longtime partner AZA to reimburse plant and animal care facilities in this first distribution of critical American Rescue Plan funding,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “We are confident these funds will be used effectively to continue these institutions’ high-quality efforts to protect the nation’s imperiled species.”

“As we reviewed the applications for this funding, it was clear that despite the pandemic, zoos, aquariums and other facilities continued to provide extraordinary care for federally protected species and a critically important service to the agencies dedicated to endangered species recovery. That is why we are so grateful to partner with the Service to direct this funding to provide some relief to facilities who need it,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of AZA.

The facilities receiving reimbursement funds include:

  • Alaska - Alaska Sea Life, $188,229
  • Arizona - ACNC Phoenix Zoo, $196,530
  • California - Aquarium of the Pacific, $50,855; Birch Aquarium, $110,190
  • Colorado - Butterfly Pavilion, $1,738
  • Connecticut - Sea Research Foundation, Mystic Aquarium, $44,642
  • Florida - The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, $88,718
  • Georgia - Chehaw Park & Zoo, $2,965; Georgia Aquarium, $97,811
  • Kansas - Hutchinson Zoo $18,811
  • Louisiana - Alexandria Zoological Park, $42,316
  • Missouri - Friends of the Zoo Inc. of Kansas City, $158,760
  • New York - New York Marine Rescue Center, $68,506
  • North Carolina - Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue, $100,703; North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, $123,672; North Carolina Aquarium Pine Knoll Shores, $59,850
  • Ohio - Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, $20,206; Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, $142,296
  • Pennsylvania - National Aviary, $87,141
  • Texas - Gladys Porter Zoo, $12,605
  • Virginia - Mill Mountain Zoo, $15,487

Funds released today will be directed toward reimbursing these 21 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, the Wyoming toad and many others.

Additional information about the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program can be found on AZA’s website.

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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