AZA News Releases

Zoo and Aquarium Response to Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have mobilized to help save wildlife impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill which began on April 20, 2010. Zoos and aquariums have been identified by key Federal agencies as important partners in animal rescue and rehabilitation for the Gulf’s wildlife.

United States Fish & Wildlife Service publishes wildlife statistics everyday at noon on this site.

Accredited zoos and aquariums have a unique expertise with animals that can support the clean-up effort. Many zoos and aquariums already have animal rescue and rehabilitation programs in place, and trained personnel and existing infrastructure are being made available to help with the oil spill response.

Learn more about the response and how to volunteer and donate below. Find your local AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium here.

Resources for the zoo and aquarium professional community are available here - login required.

Information from AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums

There is a growing list of about 70 AZA-accredited institutions that have promised staff or physical or financial resources. In particular, AZA-accredited facilities in Gulf Coast states are playing a leading role in the rescue effort. For example:

Coordinated by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program  is the primary responder for the state of Louisiana for rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles. 

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium has updated its reporting systems on beach conditions and the marine ecosystem and is gathering baseline samples of water, sediment and organisms for study. Unified Command has also asked that Mote become a primary reception site for oiled sea turtles. Mote has also launched several underwater robots offshore of Southwest Florida to patrol the Gulf for oil. 

The Jackson Zoo is sending staff twice a week to Alabama Wildlife Center to help with rescued birds. They will also be the holding facility for non-releasable birds as they wait placement in other AZA-accredited institutions. Some pelicans have already found homes at Chicago Zoological Society's Brookfield Zoo and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. 

Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment havepledged their expertise, facilities, manpower and resources to aid animals affected by the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. SeaWorld San Diego's Oiled Wildlife Care Center has been contracted to help with manatee rescue and rehabilitation as needed.

The Walt Disney Company is committed to helping those affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Wildlife and veterinary experts from Disney Animal Programs are in touch daily with state, national and nonprofit organizations to anticipate need  and those teams stand ready to offer their assistance. For more information about Disney conservation efforts, please visit and

The Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation is prepared for environmental restoration, stranding response and wildlife rehabilitation of marine mammals, river otters, sea turtles, and birds. The Center is also actively pursuing research and development of in-shore aquaculture and transplantation techniques for Atlantic corals as a strategy to stock emergency populations for restoration to damaged reefs. To learn more about their response efforts and how you can help, visit their oil spill response webpage.

Eleven AZA-accredited aquariums are part of a national Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Teams from these institutions are prepared to assist with the rescue and rehabilitation of animals affected by the oil spill.

Information from Federal Agencies

The new official site for the federal, state and local oil spill response which provides the latest news, phone numbers, and information. Members of the public can also file claims and learn about volunteering. Download the Action Plan of the Wildlife Branch of the Unified Command (in PDF), which highlights the role of zoos and aquariums.

As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been on the scene of the oil spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations. Read more on their main website for the response, updated daily.

 The main website for Fisheries constituents is also updated daily.The United States Fish and Wildlife Service continues to support the joint agency response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with experienced specialists, land managers, and support personnel. The Service also is initiating Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration activities in this incident to assess and address the long-term damage to impacted resources. Learn more here.

The Animal Welfare Information Center, part of the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Library, has created a list of resources related to the oil spill. 

This list of resources will be updated as the situation evolves. Please check back. Last update: July 23, 2010

I Accept

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. If you continue using our website, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website and you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Find a Zoo or Aquarium Donate to AZA Contact Us Member Login Search the site