Conservation Education

Studies have shown that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums enhance the public’s understanding of wildlife and the need to conserve the places animals live. Visitors believe zoos and aquariums play an important role in conservation education and that when they experience a stronger connection to nature, are prompted to reconsider their role in environmental problems and conservation action and see themselves as part of the solution as a result of their visit. 

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums play a vital role in educating over 180 million visitors, including 51 million students, each year, about wild animals, their habitats, their related conservation issues, and the ways in which they can contribute to their preservation. Over the past ten years, AZA-accredited institutions have also trained more than 400,000 teachers with award-winning and proven science curricula.

AZA Educator Resources

AZA and its Conservation Education Committee provides information, protocols, and tools through the AZA Network to help educators facilitate nature play opportunities; manage animal ambassador presentations; deliver consistent conservation messages; advocate for the educational impact of zoos and aquariums, and serve on AZA committees, advisory groups, or animal programs as a means to enhance their education program planning and raise public awareness about, and actions towards, conservation concerns. 

Advocating for Education

A vital part of AZA’s government affairs strategy is the continuing education of all Members of Congress as to the value of accredited zoos and aquariums, the vital role they play in conservation, education, recreation, tourism, job creation, and collectively as major contributors to the economy and AZA educators are ideal advocates for their institution. Learn More

Animal Programs Education Advisors

Education Advisors play a critical role in and serve as consultants within AZA Animal Programs for topics and issues related to conservation education, community outreach, and public awareness and assist with the design and execution of the Animal Program’s conservation and management goals. Learn More

Ambassador Animals

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are ideal venues for developing emotional ties to wildlife and fostering an appreciation for the natural world. The presentation of ambassador animals can provide the compelling experience needed for visitors to gain and maintain personal connections with their own relationships with nature. With these benefits, however, AZA recognizes that ambassador animal presentations require a host of responsibilities that are required to ensure the welfare, health and safety of the animal, handlers, and public, and stress the importance of ensuring conservation take-home messages are received by the audience.

Conservation Education Committee

This committee provides leadership and professional development opportunities for AZA educators and disseminates pertinent information to the education liaisons at AZA institutions through its Regional Communication Plan and quarterly newsletter. Learn More

Conservation Education Standards and Policies

AZA is committed to promoting high standards of excellence in all aspects of conservation education. Accreditation Standards and Board-Approved Policies have been established to ensure this objective is achieved and often evolve to meet increasingly rigorous criteria. All AZA-accredited institutions must ensure that education is a central tenet in their mission, must develop a written education plan that matches current industry standards, and must regularly evaluate their education programs.

Education Programs Database

The web-based Education Programs database collects information about our member's individual and collective education program contributions to help tell the story of the educational impact of AZA Zoos & Aquariums as part of the Annual Report on Conservation and Science. Learn More

Nature Play Begins at Your Zoo & Aquarium

This ground-breaking AZA initiative supported by The Walt Disney Company provides financial, logistical, and creative support for AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to create innovative ways to establish or enhance family-centered nature play experiences in their communities. Learn More

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