Dear Colleagues:

Greetings!  As Chair-Elect of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), it is my pleasure to announce a “Call for Service” and ask you to consider serving on an AZA Committee.  We all depend on the expertise of our colleagues – on both a personal and institutional level, and from the perspective of zoos and aquariums of all sizes.  From Aquarium Affairs to Volunteer Management and everywhere in between, the work of our committees is more important than ever.  Please consider committing your time to help us advance our collective goals.

Committee service is very rewarding; however, it does involve attendance at committee meetings each year, in addition to ongoing work and regular conference calls. Therefore, it is important to have the explicit support of your Director to fully commit to your new responsibility.   The term of service on most Committees is three years.

It is my privilege, as Chair-Elect, to match your expertise and desires with the needs of the committees.  While we may receive more volunteer applications than available positions, I assure you we will do everything possible to involve you.

Here is how it works: if you are interested in serving on one of the committees listed below, you must be an individual member of AZA.  If you are not a member, you can join now by contacting You may then apply to serve.  Please fill out the Committee application form  and then send it to:   We need to hear from you by 1 May so I can complete the appointments prior to the Annual Conference.

There is great personal and professional satisfaction in supporting our Association through its committees and programs. We have lofty goals within our Association – together we can meet these goals, and in the process help all of our aquariums and zoos meet their missions as well.  I look forward to hearing from and working with you.

Thanks for your help and involvement.

Christopher Kuhar, PhD
Executive Director, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Chair-Elect, AZA Board of Directors

Below is a list of committees and a brief outline of some of the ways they serve the AZA.

Evaluates accreditation materials, develops standards, reviews inspection reports and grants certification and accreditation. Note:  To be considered for the Accreditation Commission a member must have served on a number of inspection teams and preferably have experience chairing a team.

Ensures the highest quality and most comprehensive animal health care in all AZA institutions by: drafting and reviewing health-related guidelines and policies as requested by the AZA Board, other SAGS and AZA programs; responding to emerging disease issues by drafting protocols, guidelines, and recommendations for AZA institutions; providing review of research or conservation proposals for CGF and other granting bodies; working with Accreditation Commission on development and/or review of health-related accreditation standards; and acting as a liaison between AZA, AAZV, and animal health regulatory agencies, such as USDA and the CDC.

Facilitates the professional and scientific management of AZA member institutions’ animal collections. The APM Committee develops, oversees, promotes, evaluates and supports the cooperative animal management, programs and initiatives of the AZA.

Ensures that animal welfare is a central tenet of AZA’s animal programs by: defining and increasing a common understanding of animal welfare; identifying and encouraging the development of animal welfare research projects and assessment tools; educating and engaging AZA zoos and aquariums in using/applying welfare assessment tools; driving the creation of husbandry guidelines for all taxa; proactively identifying and addressing internal and external animal welfare issues; and understanding and influencing public perception about animal welfare in AZA zoos and aquariums.

Ensures the highest quality and constant improvement of AZA conferences to maximize delegate experience, conference host experience, program quality, administrative efficiency and financial excellence.

CONSERVATION EDUCATIONAdvances the AZA Strategic Plan through its active team of members and advisers whose mission is to support zoo and aquarium educators, advance conservation education practices, and advocate for the importance of conservation education in accomplishing conservation goals.

Creates a culture within AZA that inspires respect and understanding of the value of diversity.  As a core value of AZA, the committee’s work is pertinent to the successful management of zoos and aquariums.

Assists in development of AZA positions on legislation and regulations affecting the membership.

Evaluates and honors achievements in the zoo and aquarium profession, including educational programming, animal management, conservation, exhibition design, diversity and marketing.

The Marketing Committee serves to enhance the AZA membership and generate new revenue streams by providing expertise and support for building awareness and participation in AZA and its programs; serves as the industry’s leading voice on marketing trends and opportunities; and shares best practices in marketing programs among the membership.   

Monitors and reviews membership-related matters including AZA member benefits and assists with recruitment and retention.

Oversees the development, administration, and assessment of the Association’s professional development and training programs.

Provides public relations advice and counsel to the AZA. Engages in outreach to professionals within the AZA community to share public relations best practices. Leads in the development of public relations programming at AZA conferences and meetings.

Addresses emerging safety issues, and serves as a primary resource for gathering and disseminating best practices in safety within zoos and aquariums.

Committee members:

  • Seek to engage 100% of the AZA membership in field conservation, as evidenced through submissions to AZA’s annual field conservation survey.
  • Administer AZA’s SAFE Species program through liaisonships by committee members with each SAFE Species program, reviewing program proposals and conservation plans, and providing feedback to AZA’s Board of Directors on SAFE program implementation.
  • Mentor AZA members as they expand, change, and/or developing their conservation programs.

Special Committees

Provides experience and applies the tools of fundraising and friendraising to the unique challenges of zoos and aquariums.

Provides input and feedback to the AZA Board of Directors on issues that are uniquely aquatic in nature, in order to guide policy.

  • Assists the AZA Board in reviewing proposed AZA policies, committee or conservation unit mandates, accreditation standards, etc. for their potential effect on the aquatic institutional membership or on institutions with aquatic collections which typically require unique animal management approaches.
  • Assists AZA in assimilating membership directives into the aquatic institution culture.

Provides mentoring and networking opportunities for our colleagues; engages new commercial vendors in AZA; explores cooperative purchasing opportunities that may ensure savings for members; and establishes ethics and standards for business operations.

Provides mentoring and networking for HR professionals and input regarding the unique challenges of staffing zoos and aquariums.

Advances the use of research and technology to promote the use of good science throughout our profession, identifies best practices and their applications and facilitates communication among our scientific and animal management and education communities.  

Identifies, evaluates and prioritizes industry and external trends to provide actionable, forward-looking data and tools so AZA is strategically anticipating and meeting the needs of its members.

Provides practical resources and support for AZA professionals that work with volunteers.

For more information, please contact Barbara Pueschel, Executive Assistant, 301-244-3326.

Another opportunity for involvement with AZA is as a Course Instructor. Applications for service as an instructor are considered on a rolling basis.

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