From the Desk of Dan Ashe

5 Things You Didn't Know About Polar Bears

5 Fun Facts about Polar Bears In honor of Polar Bear Day on February 27th, we’re sharing our favorite fun facts about polar bears, one of the most unique and amazing species on earth! 1. What color are polar bears? While polar bears may appear to have white skin and fur, they actually have black skin and translucent fur, which appears white, their fur reflects light and helps them blend in with their surroundings.   2. How far can polar bears swim? ... Read More
Posted by Kristen Corl at Tuesday, March 19, 2019

How Zoos and Aquariums Protect Endangered Species

How do Zoos and Aquariums Protect Animals? A visit to a zoo or an aquarium is an opportunity to see the beautiful and diverse wildlife our world has to offer., Zoos and aquariums around the world offer an incredible up close and personal view of nature. More than 230 members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) work to provide safe habitats, medical care, and a nurturing environment for their animals. AZA and our members work to protect endangered species in numerous... Read More
Posted by Kristen Corl at Friday, March 15, 2019

Advocating for STEM Education with AAM

This week's blog is guest written by Jennifer Keaton, vice president of congressional affairs. In February, AZA joined with its fellow museum colleagues of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in supporting Museums Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.  For more than ten years, zoo and aquarium professionals have traveled to Washington, DC, to educate lawmakers about how museums benefit local communities, educate schoolchildren, and make significant contributions to the understanding... Read More
at Friday, March 8, 2019

AZA Members Rescue and Rehab "Cold-Stunned" Sea Turtles

As the winter months carry on, I have read numerous news stories describing the plight of “cold-stunned” sea turtles becoming stranded across the east coast. Sea turtles are reptiles, making the incapable of regulating their own body temperatures. Warming temperatures can kickstart the turtles’ migration too early in the season, causing them to migrate northward. A sudden cold front can reduce ocean temperatures to under 50 degrees, at which temperature the turtles’... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Federal Government Shut-Show

Sadly, today marks the 28 th day of the federal government shutdown, the longest in our nation’s history. This morning’s Washington Post includes an editorial entitled, “Surprise! We need the federal government.” As a 22-year career employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), I managed the organization through shutdowns in 1995 (5 days), 1996 (21 days), and in 2013 (16 days).  This past Tuesday (January 15), I was asked to testify before Congress, as... Read More
at Friday, January 18, 2019

Written Testimony of Dan Ashe Before the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee

January 15, 2019 - Good morning Ms. DeLauro and Members.  My name is Dan Ashe, and I am the President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the recent, former director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or AZA, as we are popularly known, is an accrediting body and professional organization. AZA accreditation is the gold standard in the global zoological profession, and our 233 members are among the world’s great... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Friday, January 18, 2019

2018 was an Inspiring News Year

As I look back on the last year, there have been literally hundreds of stories in the news highlighting the important work carried out by AZA-accredited facilities. From conservation endeavors to animal rescue stories to new animal habitat openings, the compelling stories coming from AZA-accredited facilities make last year a year to remember. Here are some of the best aquarium and zoo stories from 2018, compiled by our communications team. Conservation Columbus Zoo and Aquarium... Read More
at Thursday, January 10, 2019

This Year, Let's Resolve to End Illegal Ivory Trade

Well, just in time for the holiday, the United Kingdom has given the world a gift, renewing hope that we can save elephants from extinction.  The UK has enacted a ban on the sale of ivory, following in the footsteps of China and the United States, and renewing a path of world leadership, which the European Union will hopefully be next to follow. I was U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director from 2011-2017. Early in my tenure as Director, a group of employees came to me with the... Read More
at Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gifts that Give Back

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others” as Booker T. Washington once said. The holiday season is the perfect time to do good for others- yes; for our family, our friends, and our coworkers, but also for the world on a large scale. The best gifts are those that give back to an important cause, and at AZA, we’re working with our partners to make sure purchasing gifts go hand-in-hand with saving species from extinction. For those of us who have not yet... Read More
at Monday, December 10, 2018

Grateful for Volunteers

Last week, Thanksgiving provided us a chance to reflect on all that we are thankful for. I am grateful every day for the AZA community members that bring to life our mission of protecting wildlife and wild places, including the volunteers who help to make our work possible. Some of those amazing volunteers even donated their time over the holiday weekend to work at one of our 230+ AZA-accredited facilities. Volunteers are a critical part of the AZA team. Over 164,000 volunteers provide 7.6... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, November 29, 2018

Support AZA on Giving Tuesday

Our Earth is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction; with hundreds of species disappearing each year. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and its 230-plus accredited members envision a world where all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places. Through comprehensive breeding and conservation programs, AZA-accredited facilities have successfully saved numerous species from the edge of extinction, such as the black-footed ferret, scimitar-horned oryx, California condor,... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Straw or No Straw: How Our Choices Impact Aquatic Wildlife One Straw at a Time

Guest blog written by Rob Vernon, senior vice president of communications and marketing. How does plastic impact the environment? Plastic can be used to save wildlife, but it can also be extremely dangerous, especially when we over-produce, over-use, and over-consume and then fail to reuse, recycle, and/or dispose of it properly. Most plastics are not biodegradable and cannot be broken down naturally by bacteria or other living things, and as a result, most of it ends up in... Read More
Posted by Rob Vernon at Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bridging the Gap

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are places where people of all ages, gender, races, religions, ethnicities, abilities and cultures create bonds with animals they will likely never have opportunity to see in the wild. In a world where people are increasingly urbanizing and disconnected from nature, aquarium and zoo experiences are providing connections to the natural world that can inspire conservation action. Not everyone, however, may have easy access to their local zoo or aquarium. For... Read More
at Friday, November 9, 2018

AZA Aquariums and Zoos Get Creepy and Creative this Halloween

AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos hosted festive, family fun events this month, ranging from the creative to the creepy. Thousands of adults and children connected with nature during our facilities’ “Boo at the Zoo,” “Aquascarium,” and other events and fundraisers. Halloween at AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos isn’t just about the candy. These events serve as opportunities to educate guests about related conservation actions, such as using reusable treat... Read More
at Friday, November 2, 2018

Have an Orangutan-Friendly Halloween!

Palm oil can be found in half of the household and food products we consume : lotions, toothpastes, frozen meals, and even some of the chocolate candies many of us will consume this Halloween. It can be a healthy alternative to other oils, but its overuse is becoming a conservation crisis.  The unsustainable use of palm oil threatens rainforest ecosystems and the wildlife that lives there – wildlife like orangutans, an AZA: SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program species. ... Read More
at Thursday, October 25, 2018

"The Immeasurable Distance between Late and Too Late"

We all know many axioms of life and literature that warn about the consequences of "too little, too late." William Shakespeare wrote, “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late” and Ralph Waldo Emerson penned, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” And despite the broad consensus within the scientific and environmental community that we are living amid climate and extinction crises, we continue to wait,... Read More
at Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What is an Endangered Species?

Guest blog written by Rob Vernon, senior vice president of communications and marketing. Learn more about the difference between endangered and threatened species and discover what organizations like the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and others are doing to protect animals and ecosystems around the world. What is the difference between a threatened species and an endangered species? You’ve probably heard the term... Read More
Posted by Rob Vernon at Monday, October 15, 2018

Inspiration from the 2018 International Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

This past week, I joined Sara Walker, Senior Advisor on Wildlife Trafficking at the AZA, and over 3,000 other wildlife conservation enthusiasts in London for the 2018 International Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT).  It seems less frequent these days, but sometimes leaders do what leaders are supposed to do. The London IWT Conference was one of these moments! The British Prime Minister, several African and Asian Heads-of-State and first-ladies, His Royal Highness Prince... Read More
at Friday, October 12, 2018

Reflections from AZA's 2018 Seattle Conference

In late September, almost 3,000 zoo and aquarium professionals gathered in Seattle, Washington for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ 2018 Annual Conference. The Conference provided an opportunity to network with colleagues, discuss best practices, share new research and explore cutting-edge products and services. This past year, AZA achieved several significant milestones, all of which were celebrated throughout a special week in the Pacific Northwest: ... Read More
at Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Politics of Addition

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “Politics is human beings; it’s addition rather than subtraction.” In general, we become stronger as we add others to our community or coalition, and weaker when we subtract or exclude participants. However, how do we work with others, especially when their fundamental values may differ from ours? Should we work with them at all? Many in our community are voicing their opinions on these topics after seeing, or hearing about... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, October 4, 2018

Congratulations, Heroes!

How does one define a “hero?” Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as a “mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.” But a hero does not have to be fictional.  A hero is an individual who confronts fear or hardship in a selfless pursuit for a noble cause. A hero protects the vulnerable, and inspires others to achieve their dreams. I can think of no better example of “heroism” than the... Read More
at Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Weathering the Storm

We cannot always predict natural disasters, or their possible effects. But when last week’s Hurricane Florence loomed over the Carolinas, our members were prepared. During an emergency, there is nothing more important than the safety of our staff, our animals, and our guests. AZA’s rigorous accreditation standards require our member zoos and aquariums to have in place risk management plans, and to perform at minimum four emergency drills per year for potential emergencies,... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, September 20, 2018

Training Tomorrow's Leaders

School is starting up again – for kids across the country, as well as within the AZA community. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are on the cutting edge of every aspect of the zoological profession and lead groundbreaking work in conservation, science, animal management, and more. They not only utilize the latest techniques, information, and tools available, but they also develop them. One of AZA’s strategic promises is to empower zoo and aquarium professionals to be leaders in... Read More
at Friday, September 14, 2018

Vote Now: AZA "Find Our Heroes" Video Contest

I'd like to thank the 95 individuals at AZA-accredited facilities who took the time to submit videos for the AZA " Find Our Heroes " video contest. My fellow judges and I enjoyed watching each one. One of AZA's strategic promises is to tell powerful stories, and each submission did precisely that. The AZA community's enthusiasm and dedication to our profession will assure us all a bright future. We did, however, have to narrow the choices down to 10 videos for... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, August 30, 2018

Celebrating Elephants

Elephants, the world’s largest land mammal, are facing enormous threats. Poaching, habitat destruction, and human-wildlife conflict are driving these species closer to extinction – with 96 elephants killed every day in Africa for their ivory tusks.  It’s a shocking statistic, and one that AZA and its members are determined to reverse. That’s why AZA and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance are expanding our elephant conservation initiatives by joining the... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, August 16, 2018

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