AZA News Releases

Wildlife Conservationists and Researchers Receive Funding for Critical Work

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums awards $250,000 in grants for conservation initiatives    

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced today Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) grants totaling $250,000 to be awarded to 12 projects led by AZA members.

“AZA’s Conservation Grants Fund provides support to AZA members who are working to protect wildlife,” said AZA Vice President of Conservation and Science Shelly Grow. “These dedicated people are safeguarding vulnerable species around the world, conducting critical research to understand and address the threats facing them in the wild and engaging people and communities in saving species. As a result of this work, we are all better positioned to assure that the future of threatened and endangered species is protected.”

Established in 1984, the AZA Conservation Grants Fund is a competitive grants program that supports the cooperative conservation-related scientific and educational initiatives of AZA members and their partners. Major areas of funding for conservation and animal care are represented, including research, field conservation, education and outreach, animal welfare, animal health and animal management. Many Conservation Grants Fund projects are collaborations among AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and state, federal and international wildlife agencies, academia and other conservation organizations.

Since 1991, the CGF has provided more than $7.3 million to over 400 projects worldwide. These funds are raised through private and corporate contributions, including long-time support from the Disney Conservation Fund. Publications resulting from grant recipient projects are available on AZA’s website

After a competitive review of 80 applications, 12 projects were chosen to be funded for 2017. AZA congratulates the 2017 Conservation Grants Fund recipients:

An Integrated Conservation Breeding Center for the Critically Endangered Red Siskin in Venezuela
Paul Marinari, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Anteaters & Highways:  Why, When and How Giant Anteaters Cross Roads and Understanding Impacts and Effects of Roads on Giant Anteater Populations
Arnaud Desbiez, PhD, Zoo Conservation Outreach Group

Applying SNP-Derived Genotyping to the Captive Management of the Critically Endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana muscosa)
Natalie Calatayud, PhD, Cynthia Steiner, PhD, and Debra Shier, PhD, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Genome Resource Banking for Improved Genetic Management of the Tiger Species Survival Plan
Jason Herrick, PhD, Christina Ploog, DVM, and Doug Armstrong, DVM, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Kathy Traylor-Holzer, PhD, IUCN-SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group
Tara Harris, PhD, Minnesota Zoo

Developing Low-Impact Monitoring Approaches for Reintroduced Populations of Scimitar-Horned Oryx and Przewalski's Horses
Melissa Songer, PhD and Katherine Mertes, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Does Hybridization of Bornean Orangutan Subspecies Lead to Outbreeding Depression?
Graham Banes, PhD, Henry Vilas Zoo
Megan Elder, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Emergency Protection for the Critically Endangered Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)
Ross Kiester, PhD and Paul Gibbons, DVM, Turtle Conservancy

Metagenomic Investigation Into the Cause of Shell Disease in Western Pond Turtles (Actinemys marmorata)
Karen Terio, DVM, PhD, DACVP and Daniel Woodburn, DVM, DACVP, University of Illinois

Pharmacokinetics of the Antimalarial Drug Primaquine in African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus)
Ellen Bronson, DVM, DACZM, Jennifer Kottyan, and Samantha Sander, DVM, DACZM, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Save Our Scavengers: A Conservation Education Project to Protect Botswana's Vultures
Erin Stotz, Denver Zoo
Glyn Maude, PhD, Raptors Botswana

Spines Across the Water - Using STEM in Caribbean Schools to Train the Next Generation of Conservation Ecologists Through Assessing Diadema Deficient Coral Reefs
Jeffrey Graves and Deborah Stone, The Florida Aquarium

The Relevancy of Zoo Experiences: Cognition, Affect, Conservation and Health
Lance Miller, PhD, Jerry Luebke, and Jennifer Matiasek, Chicago Zoological Society – Brookfield Zoo

Anyone may support next year’s conservation projects by donating online at 

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 eight 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 9:00 AM

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