Exhibit Award

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, through its Exhibit Award, recognizes excellence in the area of live animal display and exhibit design by an AZA-Accredited Institution (US or International) or Certified Related Facility member. Only exhibits that were opened in calendar years 2021 and 2022 can be considered for the 2023 awards. Exhibits that opened to the public in 2023 must wait until 2024 to submit an application.

Awards are presented in two categories based on annual operating budget (budgets $8 million or less and budgets of more than $8 million).

If there is any question as to what constitutes an eligible project, please email Rob Vernon or call (301) 244-3352.

How to Submit an Application 

2023 application materials are available below. Applications are due June 16, 2023.
Past recipients' application materials are available below.  

All Honors and Awards applications must be submitted in electronic format ONLY and must be compiled into one PDF file. Please make sure the file name reflects both the award name and the institution.

Please upload your file to the AZA Dropbox link in the Application document below. Your file will go to the AZA Dropbox account, but you do not need to sign in, or even have a Dropbox account to use this link—when it opens, just click on the “choose files” box and upload your application.

Remember to submit a Media Release Form (DOC) with your application.

Exhibit Award Recipients

See the past winners' applications (member login required)


Top Honors - operating budget greater than $8 million

  • Houston Zoo for South America’s Pantanal
  • Zoo Knoxville for Zoo Knoxville’s Clayton Family Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Campus (ARC Campus)

Top Honors - operating budget less than $8 million
Fundacion Zoolgica de Cali – Cali Zoo for Por el Camino de los Andes or “Along the Andes Trail"

Significant Achievement - operating budget greater than $8 million
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium for Owen Sea Lions Shores


Top Honors - operating budget greater than $8 million
Houston Zoo - Kathrine G. McGovern Texas Wetlands and Cypress Circle Café

Top Honors - operating budget less than $8 million
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park - Eagle Passage: Wings of Hope

Significant Achievement - operating budget greater than $8 million
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Australian Adventures


Operating Budgets greater than $8 million

Top Honors

  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park — Walkabout Australia
  • Nashville Zoo — Tiger Crossroads

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens — African Forest


Operating Budgets greater than $8 million

Top Honors

  • Nashville Zoo — Expedition PERU - Trek of the Andean Bear
  • New York Aquarium — Ocean Wonders: SHARKS!

Significant Achievement

  • Zoo Knoxville — Boyd Family Asian Trek
  • Oakland Zoo — California Trail


  • Oregon Zoo — Oregon Zoo Education Center
  • Omaha Zoo and Aquarium — Children's Adventure Trails

Operating Budgets less than $8 million

National Aviary — National Aviary's Tropical Rainforest


Operating Budgets greater than $5 million

Top Honors
Sedgwick County Zoo — Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley

Significant Achievement

  • San Diego Zoo Global — Africa Rocks 
  • South Carolina Aquarium — Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery


Operating Budgets less than $5 million

Top Honors
Henry Vilas Zoo — Arctic Passage

Operating Budgets greater than $5 million

Top Honors

  • Detroit Zoo — Polk Penguin Conservation Center
  • Oregon Zoo — Elephant Lands

Significant Achievement
Cincinnati Zoo — Africa


  • California Academy of Sciences — Twilight Zone: Deep Reefs Revealed
  • Philadelphia Zoo — ZOO360®


Operating Budgets less than $5 million

Top Honors
Sequoia Park Zoo — Watershed Heroes Exhibit

Operating Budgets greater than $5 million

Top Honors

  • The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore — Penguin Coast
  • National Aquarium — Living Seashore

Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo — Hamill Family Wild Encounters / Bramsen Animal Ambassador Pavilion

Wildlife Emergency Response 
Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens — Florida Panthers


Operating Budgets less than $5 million

Top Honors

  • Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History — Snow Monkeys
  • North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island — Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center

Operating Budgets greater than $5 million

Top Honors

  • Assiniboine Park Zoo — Journey to Churchill
  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — Heart of Africa
  • San Diego Zoo Global — Tull Family Tiger Trail

Significant Achievement
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens — Land of the Tiger

Indianapolis Zoo — Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center


Top Honors

  • Fresno Chaffee Zoo — Sea Lion Cove
  • Philadelphia Zoo — KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children's Zoo & Faris Family Education Center

Significant Achievement

  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo — Encounter Africa
  • National Aquarium — Blacktip Reef



Significant Achievement
Saint Louis Zoo — Sea Lion Sound


Top Honors
The Louisville Zoo — Glacier Run

Significant Achievement

  • The California Science Center — Ecosystems
  • Cleveland Metroparks Zoo — African Elephant Crossing
  • Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens — Elephants of Asia  


Top Honors

  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — Polar Frontier
  • Fort Worth Zoo — Museum of Living Art (MOLA)
  • The Toledo Zoo — Nature's Neighborhood

Significant Achievement

  • Brevard Zoo — PAWS ON
  • Dallas Zoo — Giants of the Savanna


Top Honors

  • Oregon Zoo — Predators of the Serengeti
  • Woodland Park Zoo — Humboldt Penguin Exhibit

Significant Achievement

  • Fundación Temaikèn — The Bird's Place
  • San Diego Zoo — Elephant Odyssey
  • The Philadelphia Zoo — McNeil Avian Center


Top Honors
Minnesota Zoo — Russia's Grizzly Coast and Central Plaza

Significant Achievement

  • Bronx Zoo — Madagascar
  • North Carolina Zoo — Watani Grasslands Reserve


Top Honors
National Aquarium in Baltimore — Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

Significant Achievement
Minnesota Zoo — Minnesota Trail 


Top Honors
Philadelphia Zoo — Big Cat Falls

Significant Achievement

  • Houston Zoo — Natural Encounters
  • Smithsonian National Zoological Park — Asia Trail


Top Honors
Denver Zoo — Entrance and Predator Ridge

Significant Achievement

  • Lincoln Park Zoo — Regenstein Center for African Apes
  • San Antonio Zoo — Kronkosky's Tiny Tot Nature Spot


Top Honors

  • Jacksonville Zoo — Range of the Jaguar
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium — Sharks: Myth and Mystery

Significant Achievement

  • Lincoln Park Zoo — Regenstein African Journey
  • Oregon Zoo — Eagle Canyon
  • Woodland Park Zoo — Jaguar Cove


Top Honors
Bronx Zoo / Wildlife Conservation Society — Tiger Mountain

Significant Achievement

  • John G. Shedd Aquarium — Wild Reef
  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo — African Rift Valley


Top Honors
Louisville Zoo — Gorilla Forest

Significant Achievement

  • Detroit Zoo — Arctic Ring of Life
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium — Jellies: Living Art


  • Brookfield Zoo — Hamill Family Play Zoo
  • Detroit Zoological Institute — Amphibiville


  • Minnesota Zoo — Wells Fargo Family Farm
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium — Amazon Rising: Seasons of the River


  • Monterey Bay Aquarium — Mysteries of the Deep
  • Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society — Congo Gorilla Forest


  • Toledo Zoo — Historic Aviary Renovation
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium — Seahorse Symphony


  • New England Aquarium — Aquarium Medical Center
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum — Javelina Exhibit
  • Louisville Zoological Gardens — Islands Exhibit


  • Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society — Butterfly Zone
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium — The Outer Bay


  • National Zoological Park — Think Tank
  • Sea World of Florida — Wild Arctic


Woodland Park Zoological Gardens — Northern Trail


  • Cincinnati Zoo — Jungle Trails, The Asian and African Rainforest Exhibit
  • SeaWorld of Florida — Manatees: The Last Generation


Woodland Park Zoological Gardens — Tropical Rain Forest


John G. Shedd Aquarium — Oceanarium


Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society — Baboon Reserve & African Market


Woodland Park Zoological Gardens — Elephant Forest


San Diego Zoo — Tiger River


National Zoological Park — Invertebrate Exhibit


  • Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society — Himalayan Highlands
  • San Diego Zoo — East African Rock Kopje


Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society — JungleWorld


Audubon Park & Zoological Garden — Louisiana Swamp Exhibit


Sea World of California — The Penguin Encounter


Oregon Zoo — Cascades; Stream & Pond Building


  • Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society — Children's Zoo
  • Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium — Polar Bear Complex


Woodland Park Zoological Gardens — The African Savanna


Hanna Barbera Marineland — Baja Reef


Cincinnati Zoo — World of the Insect


The Seattle Aquarium — Puget Sound Exhibit


Saint Louis Zoological Park — Aquatic House Renovation


Saint Louis Zoological Park — Big Cat Country


Chicago Zoological Park — Saharan Predator Exhibit


Topeka Zoological Park — Tropical Rain Forest

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