SAFE Stories

Image of the logo SAFE Saving Animals From ExtinctionThe Association of Zoos & Aquariums, with its member aquariums and zoos and a variety of partners, are taking action to save species through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction. SAFE combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA members and partners, all focused on saving species. Our collective action will help save vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protect them for future generations.


Updates on AZA SAFE

Below are a few updates about the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program. 

AZA SAFE Member-Sponsored Species

The criteria for qualifying a species as an SMSS is finalized and the Implementation Task Force (ITF) is working on identifying a few model SMSS species.  The AZA Field Conservation Committee (FCC) has agreed to receive, review, and approve SMSS applications and is collaborating with the ITF to finalize the application and the approval processes which will be launched at the January 2017 Directors Policy Meeting.

AZA SAFE Conservation Action Plan (CAP) Project Coordinators

We are very happy to announce that two new SAFE CAP Project Coordinators have been confirmed since our last update.  Jim Wharton, Director of Conservation and Education at the Seattle Aquarium, will be one of the AZA SAFE Shark and Ray Conservation Action Plan Public Engagement Project Coordinators. Jim has over 20 years of experience with informal science education, program development and public awareness, as well as in shark and ray conservation and protection.

Beth Firchau, Director of Husbandry at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, will be the AZA SAFE Shark and Ray Conservation Action Plan SSP Sustainability Project Coordinator. Beth is the Marine Fishes TAG Chair and brings a deep set of knowledge and experience about SSP programs and their needs. Beth has over 20 years of experience in aquariums and has worked for many years on shark and ray conservation.

Learn more about the SAFE Signature Species: People have asked for a place where they can go to learn more about what is happening with the SAFE Signature Species and how they and their AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium can become directly involved in coordinating or collaborating on a SAFE CAP Project. To meet this need we have created species-specific SAFE Project webpages that identify critical actions to date and the project coordinators, collaborators and funders.  To find out more visit:, select the species you’re interested in, and then select the “Conservation Projects” link in the right-hand column.

AZA SAFE Resources Available

Two new tools have been created and are available for you to use. A SAFE 101 PowerPoint has been created and is available for you to brief your staff, your volunteers or your governing authority on SAFE. You can find it on the Governing Authorities Resource Center page: . In addition, a SAFE Frequently Asked Questions document has been developed. This is available in the SAFE community on the AZA network in the Resources area: NOTE: You need to be logged in to the AZA Network to access the resources.

AZA SAFE Founders Circle Update

We want to thank the 47 AZA zoos, aquariums, and commercial members who have pledged nearly $2.7+ million over three years to the Founders Circle to provide the seed money for the science, planning, and public engagement strategies for SAFE.   In particular, we thank our commercial members for their support including SSA, Miles River Direct, Schultz & Williams and Morey Consulting. We invite your participation in the Founders Circle to help us reach our $3 million goal.   For information, please contact Gregg Hudson at or Jill Nicoll at 

Quick Tips

Remember to Tag Your Posts with #SavingSpecies: Please use the #savingspecies hashtag. We are watching for your posts and sharing them with our followers. Let’s keep it up!

Join the AZA SAFE Community on the AZA Network: We utilize the AZA Network, posting updates and files available in the AZA SAFE community, which can be accessed here: . Please note that you need to be logged in to the AZA Network to access these resources.

Upcoming Calendar: AZA, working with several AZA committees, will be providing materials related to Focus Days in 2016. Thank you for helping to make World Rhino Day a success! 

December 4 – International Cheetah Day


Posted by Rob Vernon at 10:00 AM

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