Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have entered into a cooperative agreement to implement Section 6003(a)(2) of Public Law (P.L.) 117-2, the American Rescue Plan Act. The enacted language of Section 6003(a)(2) states:

“$30,000,000 shall be for the care of captive species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, for the care of rescued and confiscated wildlife, and for the care of Federal trust species in facilities experiencing lost revenues due to COVID–19.”

Under this cooperative agreement, AZA will provide reimbursements to eligible facilities that cared for endangered and threatened species and rescued and confiscated wildlife and that experienced earned revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will be directed towards reimbursing eligible facilities for the following three captive care categories: 1) U.S. native plant and animal species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); 2) wildlife rescued from the wild; and/or 3) wildlife confiscated by the U.S. Government at U.S. ports and borders or otherwise involved in international trade and held in animal care facilities. Eligible facilities do not have to be AZA-accredited or certified to be eligible to receive captive care reimbursements.

AZA will receive, process, and screen all proposals for completeness and will contact applicants if questions arise. AZA will respond to queries from applicants about the program, submission process, and status of proposals. Facility eligibility will be determined using the criteria outlined below and all eligible applicants will be reviewed by FWS (in coordination with NOAA Fisheries) and approved by the FWS Director. At that time, all applicants will be notified about the outcome of their submission.

AZA Administrative Point of Contact:
ESACovidRelief@aza.org

Submission Information

Submission deadline: November 1, 2021, at 11:59pm Eastern Time.
A completed application and all other documentation should be submitted to AZA either through Dropbox or by email.  

We anticipate making funding decisions and distributing funds before December 31, 2021.

For complete information, please review the Notice of Funding Opportunity and Application.

Facility Eligibility

The following facility eligibility criteria apply:

  • Applicable time period for reimbursement expenses: March 2020 – May 2021. Applicants may submit funding requests for all or a minimum time period of six consecutive months within the applicable time period. Lost earned revenue calculations and related reimbursement requests will be allowable for the applicant’s specified time period only.
  • Facilities must be incorporated in the United States, U.S. territories, or commonwealths.
  • Facilities must be able to provide an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and, if available, a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number.
  • Eligible facilities must have experienced a 25% or more loss in earned revenue for the designated time period. For the purposes of this agreement, earned revenue is defined as monies that facilities receive from sale of goods or services, including ticket sales, parking, concession revenues, and special admissions. Philanthropic giving is not considered earned revenue. Applicants must document that their facility experienced a 25% or greater loss in earned revenue in comparison to the previous pre-COVID-19 year.
    • EXAMPLE: If an applicant designates March 2020 – December 2020 as their specified time period for reimbursement, then the applicant should document losses based on earned revenue from the previous year’s comparable time period: March 2019 – December 2019.
  • Eligible facilities may request funding for the following three captive care categories: 1) U.S. native plant and animal species listed under the ESA; 2) wildlife rescued from the wild; and/or 3) wildlife confiscated by the U.S. Government at U.S. ports and borders or otherwise involved in international trade and held in animal care facilities. See Key Definitions below for further explanation. Animals and plants must have been held, and care given, during at least some portion of the designated time period for reimbursement expenses. For rescued and confiscated animals, the specific rescue or confiscation did not have to occur during the period of March 2020 – May 2021.
  • Allowable reimbursable expenses related to the three captive care categories include: food; veterinary care/medicines; direct care staff time; critical life support systems; transport for medical, reintroduction into the wild and captive breeding purposes; real property debt and holding space improvements/modifications; and utilities essential for care of species (e.g., electricity/gas/natural gas) to power essential services. Comparable expenses for care of native ESA-listed plants are allowable for submissions under the first captive care category.
  • Applicants must certify that none of the requested reimbursement funds have already been covered by another Federal funding source (e.g., Paycheck Protection Program) or any other Federal assistance programs.
  • Maximum funding request per facility is capped at $1 million; however, facilities are encouraged to submit all allowable costs associated with the three captive care categories. If requests do not exceed the amount available, a second round of funding will be conducted. If total eligible requests exceed the amount available, distribution of funding will be prorated based on evidence of loss, not to exceed $1 million per facility.

For complete information, please review the Notice of Funding Opportunity and Application.

Key Definitions

U.S. Native ESA-listed species: U.S. native threatened and endangered plant and animal species listed under the ESA that are cared for by a facility for non-commercial purposes (commercial is defined as selling of live ESA-listed species or their parts or products) and for the purposes of contributing to conservation, with emphasis on captive breeding or artificial propagation for recovery and reintroduction efforts.

Eligible facilities should provide relevant documentation such as an ESA permit or other Federal authorization, or certification that the expenses are for care of U.S. native ESA-listed species for the purposes of conservation and the name and phone number or email for a Federal agency point of contact who will be able to confirm that certification.

Rescued animals: U.S. native threatened and endangered animals (listed under the ESA) removed from the wild because of injury, impending threats, or impacts due to natural and human-induced activities.

Eligible facilities should provide relevant documentation that identifies the species and number of animals rescued, the date(s) when the rescue(s) occurred, the dates when the animals were cared for at the facility, and authorization from the Federal or state agency to conduct such rescue(s).

Confiscated animals: Animals listed either in the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or listed as threatened or endangered species under the ESA, and that have been seized by a U.S. Government agency at U.S. ports or borders or otherwise involved in international trade and held at facilities for general animal care and welfare purposes.

Eligible facilities should provide relevant documentation that identifies the species and number of animals confiscated, the date(s) when the confiscated animals were placed and held for care at the facility, and a contact from the Federal agency that requested the confiscation(s).

Direct care: Any activity that provides direct support for care and welfare of the animal or plant.

EXAMPLES: Staff work that interacts with the animal or plant directly (keeper, horticulturist, aquarist, maintenance, transport, rescue, rehabilitation, return to the wild, etc.); staff work that results in a product (food preparation, medicine application, enrichment development, enclosure construction) that directly impacts the animal; and staff engaged in veterinary services (x-rays, analytics). This does not include management and administration, finance, human relations, guest services, public relations, government affairs, etc.

Real property debt: Debt service payments are allowable if specifically, assignable to a separate facility committed to care of eligible species, such as a “conservation or rescue center.”

For complete information, please review the Notice of Funding Opportunity and Application.

Webinar

AZA will host a webinar to review the application process and eligibility requirements. Please register with the link below to receive the webinar link and recording. 

When: Sep 28, 2021, 3:00 PM Eastern Time (U.S. and Canada) 
Register in advance for this webinar here

FAQ

This list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) answers common questions about the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program (ESCR), clarifies terms and provides additional guidance. For information on the documentation required, see the Application Checklist. For reference to all application questions, see the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief Application Forms.

Eligibility

1. What is an eligible entity for an ESCR grant?

a. Facilities incorporated in the United States, U.S. territories, or commonwealths, that cared for U.S. native endangered and threatened species and/or rescued and confiscated wildlife, and that experienced at least a 25% reduction in earned revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible. See the eligibility criteria and key definitions for further information.

2. If I received a PPP loan, can I still apply for this grant?

a. Yes, but you may not duplicate your request with the same costs for which you received forgiveness under a PPP loan. This grant covers some expenses that PPP loans do not cover (food, veterinary medicines, transportation costs), and it may cover a different period than you utilized for your PPP loan request.

3. Do I have to choose only one of the three categories, or can I apply for a grant under all three (Conservation Care; Rescue Care; Confiscation Care)?

a. If you are caring for species that qualify for more than one category, you may apply for reimbursement of expenses in those respective categories. However, you may not duplicate any costs which were shared (such as debt service on a “conservation center”), and the maximum reimbursement is $1 million for any individual facility for all categories combined.

4. To what does the six-month time frame refer?

a. For eligibility, we require that your facility experienced at least a 25% reduction in earned revenue so a comparable designated time period from the previous year, for at least a six consecutive month period during March 2020-May 2021.
b. Claimed expenses must have been incurred during at least some portion of the same designated time period as the reduction in earned revenue.

5. We are not a public facility and earn no revenue from guests or entry fees. However, our funding has been cut by more than 25%, and it has significantly impeded our ability to continue caring for the species listed.  Can we apply for the grant?

a. No. For the purposes of this agreement, earned revenue is defined as monies that facilities receive from sale of goods or services, including ticket sales, parking, concession revenues, and special admissions. Philanthropic giving is not considered earned revenue. Applicants must document that their facility experienced a 25% or greater loss in earned revenue in comparison to the previous pre-COVID-19 designated time period.

6. Our facility is not yet authorized to care for endangered species, but we did so anyway for a period.  Can we apply for the grant?

a. Applicants must provide documentation or otherwise certify that they are authorized to care for Federally protected species and include a valid point of contact at the appropriate Federal agency.

7. Our company has a facility that is in the United States where the care was provided, but the company is incorporated outside of the United States. Are we eligible to apply for the grant?

a. No, the reimbursements are limited to facilities that are incorporated in the United States, U.S. territories, or commonwealths.

8. If an eligible entity has applied for or received any grants, loans, or other funding from a state or local governmental relief program, is it still eligible to receive an ESCR grant?

a. Yes. Receipt of pandemic-related or other assistance from state or local governments does not disqualify an eligible entity from the ESCR program. However, the applicant must certify that none of the requested reimbursement funds have already been covered by another Federal funding source (e.g., Paycheck Protection Program) or any other Federal assistance programs.

9. If we cared for an animal or plant under the eligibility criteria, but it was released, transferred, or died before the period for which the reduction in earned revenue is claimed, can we still apply for a grant?

a. No, the expenses associated with the claim must occur during some or all of the period identified for reduction in earned revenue.

10. We hold public events to “celebrate” the release of rescued and rehabilitated animals that raise public awareness and engagement. Are those expenses eligible?

a. No. Only costs that relate directly to animal care and that meet one or more of the three care categories are eligible.

11. We maintain a hotline for information about injured animals. Is that eligible?

a. No. Only costs that relate directly to animal care and that meet one or more of the three care categories are eligible.

Application Process

12. How do we submit the application?

a. Applications must be submitted electronically. A completed application and all other documentation should be submitted to AZA either through Dropbox or by email.

13. If an eligible entity is a hybrid nonprofit/governmental entity, should it apply under the nonprofit’s name and submit documentation demonstrating the public/private partnership aspect of its structure?

a. Yes.

14. What is the deadline?

a. Submission deadline: November 1, 2021, at 11:59pm Eastern Time. We anticipate making funding decisions and distributing funds before December 31, 2021.

15. Is this a ‘first come, first served’ process?

a. No: all applications will be processed and reviewed after the deadline. Notifications will be made after that time regarding any decision about funding.

Use of Funds

16. What is the intended use of the funds?

a. This is a reimbursement program, intended to replace funds that were expended for the care of rescued and confiscated wildlife and for the care of U.S. native threatened and endangered species, if all eligibility criteria are met.

Definitions

17. Applicable Time Period

a. The applicable period covered by the ESCR grant for reimbursement expenses is March 2020 through May 2021. This may differ from the Designated Time Period; see below.

18. Captive Care

a. For the purposes of eligibility, the care that you provided must have been done at your facility, while the specimens were held in a controlled environment. The program’s intent is to support your efforts to care for covered species during the timeframe that your facility was negatively impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic.
b. If the care was provided off site, those expenses would not be eligible, except as described below.
c. Expenses to rescue animals (including confiscated animals), such as staff costs, travel, and equipment, are eligible, provided that the intent is to bring the animals into captive care. Likewise, similar expenses related to transfer or reintroduce captive animals are eligible. For instance, transfer of a rescued manatee from a critical care facility to a longer-term holding/rehabilitation facility, or release of a fully rehabilitated manatee, is a reimbursable expense.

19. Designated Time Period

a. This is the period which the eligible facility has designated for which they are requesting reimbursement. It must be a minimum of six months and must be within the Applicable Time Period range (March 2020 – May 2021).

20. Earned Revenues            

a. Eligible facilities must have experienced a 25% or more loss in earned revenues for the designated time period versus the previous pre-COVID year. For the purposes of this agreement, earned revenue is defined as monies that facilities receive from sale of goods or services, including ticket sales, parking, concession revenues, and special admissions. Philanthropic giving is not considered earned revenue.

21. Expenses

a. Direct care: any activity that provides direct support for care and welfare of the animal or plant

i. Should I include fringe benefits in the value of the pay for the caregivers?

1. Yes, except any costs that you may have retained under the Employment Retention Credit or any other federal grant.

b. Real property debt: allowable If specifically assignable to a separate facility committed to care of the eligible species, such as a “conservation or rescue center”.

Other Questions

22. How do I get answers to any other questions about Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief?

a. For questions or additional information about Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief, please contact: ESACOVIDRelief@aza.org.


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