The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and it’s accredited members impact conservation, research, education and more through their programs. AZA tracks statistics about zoos and aquariums, through the Annual Report on Conservation and Science (ARCS) and other member surveys. Our members’ dedication to animal care, conservation, and education connects millions of visitors to nature each year and helps save species around the world.
There are approximately 800,000 animals in the care of AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium professionals. It is nearly impossible to quantify the number of animals in the wild, making it difficult to compare animals in human care to animals in the wild.
There are approximately 900 species classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable to Extinct in the wild at AZA member facilities. AZA members are working to increase wild populations of species in our care through 117 reintroduction programs, including more than 50 reintroduction programs for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.
There are approximately 8,700 species of animals across all 240 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and AZA certified related facilities. The average medium-sized zoo has about 168 different species and the average medium-sized aquarium has about 394 different species.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have collaborated on breeding and reintroduction programs that have helped save at least nine species like California condors, black-footed ferrets, Przewalski’s horse, golden lion tamarins, American red wolves, and more from the brink of extinction.
Of the 241 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, 54 percent are not-for-profit.
Depending on the size of the facility and the number of animals in their care, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums can spend between $500,000 and $20 million (or more) on animals every year. At AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, funds aren’t just spent on animal care. Over $230 million was spent on field conservation projects in 2019 and AZA’s Conservation Grants Fund has spent $7.7 million supporting over 400 conservation projects since 1991.
The biggest AZA-accredited zoo in the world by acreage is Toronto Zoo, encompassing 710 acres. The biggest AZA-accredited safari park is The Wilds encompassing over 9,000 acres. The biggest AZA-accredited natural habitat zoo is the North Carolina Zoo which is located on 2,600 wooded acres, 500 of which are developed. Overall, if you add up acreage, number of species, and exhibit sizes, the biggest AZA-accredited zoo in the world is Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. It has the largest cat complex in North America, the largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp, one of the world’s largest rainforests, and one of the world’s largest indoor domes. The zoo also has over 960 species and is built on over 130 acres.
The biggest AZA-accredited aquarium in the world is Georgia Aquarium with over 230 species and more than 10 million gallons of water.
Each zoo or aquarium takes a different number of people to run it, based on the size and number of animals in its care. Approximately 198,000 jobs are provided by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Zoos and aquariums employ professionals in the areas of animal care, maintenance and groundskeeping, education, guest services and more.
According to Glassdoor, zookeepers in the United States make an average salary of around $27k a year and aquarists make an average salary of around $29k a year. According to Chron, zookeepers make an average of between $19-$33 an hour depending on their status level and education.
According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, over one million marine animals die each year due to plastic pollution in the ocean. Read our Plastics FAQ to learn more about how plastic affects wildlife and wild places
AZA is dedicated to conservation efforts all over the globe. If you’re interested in learning more about our work, bookmark our Connect home page and follow us on social media to stay up to date with the latest information.