From the Desk of Dan Ashe

Protect the Pride

I remember watching Disney’s The Lion King movie with my family back in 1995, captivated by the compelling, emotional storyline, the artistic animation, and the unforgettable soundtrack. The Lion King did much more than become a box office hit: it inspired and connected people all over the world with animals they might not otherwise see in the wild. Together, we mourned Mufasa, loathed Scar, and sympathized with Simba. We laughed at Timon and Pumbaa, and rolled our eyes at Zazu. These... Read More
at Friday, July 19, 2019

AZA–Accredited Facilities Fund Coral Rescue Project to Save Florida Reef Tract from Disease

Photo Credit: NOAA;  A healthy coral reef in the Florida Keys. The Florida Reef Tract - the largest barrier reef in the continental United States - serves as critical habitat for commercial fisheries, and attracts millions of tourists each year, providing a tremendous source of income for Florida and its coastal communities. It is estimated that coral reef activities in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties generate $6.4 billion in sales in general and income... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Friday, July 19, 2019

Endangered Species Profile: Coral and Coral Reefs

Coral Reef Awareness Week 2019 Photo Credit: NOAA;  A healthy coral reef in the Florida Keys. In honor of Coral Reef Awareness Week beginning July 15, 2019, we’d like to highlight the importance of coral reefs as well as how AZA-accredited aquariums, zoos, and research centers across the globe are working to protect them.  What is coral? Coral is a living animal found in a wide array of stunning colors, diverse textures, and unique shapes which has a... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Monday, July 15, 2019

"Cool" Attractions to Check Out this Summer

Everyone is affected by the hot temperatures during the summer, including animals. This is why AZA’s rigorous, scientifically-based animal care and welfare standards require facilities to provide their animals with cool and safe options when temperatures rise. The ultimate goals of AZA’s standards are to provide the safest work environment for animal care professionals and to provide the highest quality of animal management and care, which will result in excellent overall animal... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Value of Out-of-School Learning in AZA Facilities

Guest blog  written  by Rachael Rost, AZA Hero; Education Specialist, Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center In our fast-paced technological society consumed by social media, internet memes, celebrity gossip, and television shows, one could argue that the outdoor childhood of the past has seemingly vanished for many kids in the United States and beyond. When people spend more time focusing on the color of a dress than the colors of fall, we know that nature has dropped from the... Read More
at Wednesday, June 26, 2019

AZA Celebrates Pollinator Week

Our world could not survive without pollinators, and yet many butterflies, bees, bats, and birds are fighting for their survival. Pollinators are responsible for one out of three bites of food we take each day, according to the National Pollinator Garden Network . Without them, there would be no fruits, nuts, vegetables, oils, or most flowers, and they contribute more than $24 billion to the United States economy. However, recent reports estimate nearly 40% of all animal and plant species... Read More
at Thursday, June 20, 2019

Walking the Talk of Animal Welfare: The Story of Cincinnati Zoo and Ndume the Gorilla

They say, “If you’re going to talk-the-talk, then be prepared to walk-the-walk.” Talk is cheap and easy, but progress and accomplishment requires investment of talent and treasure, and a willingness to accept the risk of falling short or failure. Well, our colleagues and friends at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden have just shown us what it looks like to walk-the-talk of animal welfare. Yesterday, the 38-year old gorilla, Ndume, was transferred to Cincinnati Zoo,... Read More
at Friday, June 14, 2019

Party for the Planet Continues with Video Contest

Party for the Planet®, an eight-week long observance between Earth Day (April 22) and World Oceans Day (June 8) is AZA’s largest public engagement effort to inspire others to respect, protect, and conserve wildlife and wild places. This year, with support from the Disney Conservation Fund, Party for the Planet featured a new theme, “Spring into Action,” encouraging families to volunteer within their communities. Over 120 of our accredited aquariums and zoos took part in... Read More
at Thursday, June 13, 2019

Don't Miss These New Exhibits this Summer

June is National Zoo and Aquarium month, and with so many new habitats and attractions opening at AZA-accredited facilities around the United States this summer; when could be a better time to visit your local zoo or aquarium? Accreditation from AZA means a facility is committed to constant improvement based on the latest science and research. From habitat expansions to brand-new conservation-themed escape rooms, AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos are constantly and creatively enhancing guest... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Friday, June 7, 2019

Exceptional AZA Zoos & Aquariums Win National Awards

It’s well-known that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide the gold standard of animal care and welfare at their facilities.  We are constantly going above and beyond, raising our standards, doing more and better conservation, and improving our education, research, and veterinary programs. Last month, USA Today recognized several of our facilities in their annual “10 Best: Readers Choice” as voted on by hundreds of thousands of readers. Our public clearly... Read More
at Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Day in the Life of a Real Marine Biologist and Animal Researcher Plus: 3 Ways to Prepare for a Career Working with Animals

What is it like to work in a zoo or aquarium? Guest blog  written  by Rob Vernon, senior vice president of communications and marketing. We’re often asked, “What is it like to work in a real zoo or aquarium?” Working in a zoo or aquarium is an exciting and rewarding career path, but it also provides unexpected challenges and opportunities. We asked two animal care specialists what it’s really like to work with animals each day. Donnie... Read More
at Thursday, May 23, 2019

TV Shows take Audiences "Behind the Scenes" at AZA Aquariums and Zoos

As President and CEO of AZA, I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at several of our accredited zoos and aquariums.  It’s a rare opportunity and incredible experience that if you have the chance, I highly recommend taking advantage of. National cable networks also recognize the value in seeing “behind the curtain,” and have invested in sharing the incredible work zoological professionals do every day with the world. The shows offer a... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, May 16, 2019

AZA Meets With Legislators on Capitol Hill

As Congress addresses the many critical issues facing the country, now is the time to bring the message of the zoo and aquarium community to lawmakers.  Strengthening these relationships is vital to assuring that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will be viewed as trusted sources of conservation and scientific information. That’s why on Wednesday, May 8, AZA and 35 of our accredited facilities met with legislators in Washington D.C. to learn about AZA-accredited facilities and ask... Read More
at Thursday, May 9, 2019

AZA-Accredited Facilities Celebrate Earth Week with Parties for the Planet

On April 22, Earth Day, we come together to celebrate the beauty of our natural world and engage in efforts to preserve it for the future. The themes around Earth Day directly align to AZA’s mission of protecting wildlife and wild places, and our accredited facilities spent this last week hosting educational events, spring cleanings, and more in honor of Earth Day. Here in DC, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed a record 15,000 to 20,000 guests on Monday for an Earth... Read More
at Thursday, April 25, 2019

Our Wildlife Heroes

Last week, AZA premiered a first-of-its-kind PSA recognizing the dedicated professionals at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums for their incredible work. Though they may not admit it, these individuals are, in fact, heroes. We need animal heroes more than ever. The world is losing wildlife thousands of times faster than the natural extinction rate.  AZA and our 230+ accredited member facilities are trying to reverse these alarming numbers through conservation science, wildlife... Read More
at Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How Zoos and Aquariums Protect Endangered Species

How do Zoos and Aquariums Protect Animals? Guest blog written by Rob Vernon, senior vice president of communications and marketing. 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... Read More
Posted by Rob Vernon 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

5 Things You Didn't Know About Polar Bears

5 Fun Facts about Polar Bears Guest blog written by Rob Vernon, senior vice president of communications and marketing. 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... Read More
Posted by Rob Vernon at Wednesday, February 27, 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

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