From the Desk of Dan Ashe

Category: Blog

Earth Day is 50 Years Old! We Need a Reawakening!

This Earth Day , we are living through a singular moment. The global economy is slowing as governments around the world have issued mandates encouraging social distancing in order to avoid overwhelming national health systems–in the United States alone, COVID-19 has infected over 825,000 people and more than 45,000 people have died, many without the comforting presence of those whom they most love. As a nation, we’ve adopted unprecedented changes in behavior. Yes, these... Read More
at Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Helping Parents During COVID Closures

Guest blog by Allison Price, Director of Learning Experiences, Lincoln Park Zoo & AZA Conservation Education Committee Chair You can find a list of live streams and educational opportunitie s on AZA's new page . Zoos and aquariums are no strangers to helping the public through times of difficulty. Whether in the days after 9/11, when people came through our gates seeking a sense of normalcy and community or on the smaller everyday scale, when families experiencing... Read More
at Friday, March 20, 2020

How a Recovery Conservation Program is Protecting this Rare Species of Minnow

PHOTO CAPTION: Rescued laurel dace awaiting transport back to Chattanooga. (Image: Tennessee Aquarium) Guest blog by AZA Staff. Endangered Species Profile: The Laurel Dace Unless you’re an avid fisherman who has ventured into streams along the Cumberland Plateau in eastern Tennessee, chances are you’ve never encountered a laurel dace.  The small species of minnow is native to a handful of small streams that feed into the Tennessee River. Most laurel... Read More
at Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Power of Community

Guest blog by Craig Hoover, Executive Vice President of AZA “If you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  This African proverb captures the power of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums community.  We see it in the 238 accredited members who continually raise the bar of what it means to meet the gold standard of a modern zoo or aquarium, constantly pushing to advance the health and welfare of the animals in their care. ... Read More
Posted by Craig Hoover at Thursday, January 30, 2020

AZA Announces Inspectors of the Year

What does it take to be an AZA accreditation inspector? AZA’s rigorous accreditation process includes an on-site inspection by a team of experts within the zoo and aquarium profession. This helps assure our member facilities are meeting the highest standards in animal welfare and care, conservation, education, safety and security, scientific advancement, and many other areas important to running a quality facility. Serving as an accreditation inspector is not an easy job, but these... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, January 9, 2020

Looking Ahead: The Future of Zoos and Aquariums

Over the last few days, we have looked back on the successes AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums celebrated in 2019. Now, as we enter into a new decade, it is time to look ahead. AZA-accredited facilities are leaders in the zoological profession, innovating the field of animal care and welfare. They are pioneers of conservation, spearheading projects around the globe. They are constantly expanding and improving guest experience, education, and veterinary care, in accordance with our... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, January 2, 2020

Looking Back: Top Animal Births of 2019

At AZA accredited zoos and aquariums, every birth is cause for celebration. AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) ® Programs oversee population management, including breeding recommendations, to ensure the sustainability of healthy, genetically diverse animal populations within AZA facilities. These baby animals are not only exciting – and adorable – new additions, many also represent hope for the future of their species. Let’s take a look back at some of the most... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Monday, December 30, 2019

Looking Back: New Exhibits and Additions in 2019

Here's a look back at some of the major expansions, renovations, and animal additions this year, compiled by the AZA community and communications team. - Visitors flocked to Denver Zoo’s new immersive grizzly bear exhibit Harmony Hill. Home to two rescued grizzly bears, the exhibit intends to teach guests about how to better coexist with bears—and all wildlife—in the wild and their own backyards. The exhibit theming includes an area modeled after a National Park,... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, December 26, 2019

Looking Back: Animal Welfare Breakthroughs

The dedicated professional staffs at AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos spend each and every day providing the best in animal care and welfare to the animals in their facilities. Whether they are hand-rearing abandoned newborns or providing geriatric care to older animals, these individuals work round-the-clock to provide the best quality care at every stage of life. AZA professionals are constantly improving the fields of animal welfare and veterinary care in order to accomplish these goals.... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Monday, December 23, 2019

Looking Back: Best Conservation Stories of 2019

AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos are just as committed to protecting animals in the wild as they are to the animals in their care. Each year, AZA-accredited facilities contribute more than $200 million to conservation initiatives around the world. Several of these projects also take place within the local community. Let's take a look back on some of the greatest conservation stories of 2019, compiled by the AZA community and communications team. - The Indianapolis Zoo and the... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, December 19, 2019

Let's Partner Against Wildlife Trafficking

The futures of conservation, human welfare, and the economy have one thing in common: they are each impacted negatively by the illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products. Wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest global crime, just behind the drug trade, arms trade, and human trafficking, and shows no signs of slowing down. When most people think of the victims of wildlife trafficking, they often picture elephants, tigers, rhinos, pangolins, and other species sought for their furs,... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Monday, December 9, 2019

Studying - and Saving - the Polar Bear

Polar bears are some of the world’s most unique animals: exquisitely adapted over evolutionary time to life on top of the Arctic sea ice, these massive carnivores rule the harsh and remote Arctic marine ecosystem. However, climate change and loss of sea ice threaten their very existence.  During November 3-9, AZA and our partners at Polar Bears International (PBI) are observing Polar Bear Week. Polar Bear Week coincides with the fall polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba,... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, November 7, 2019

Happy Halloween with Bats, Bugs, and Other Not-So-Spooky Creatures

Halloween is upon us, and it is the perfect time of year for AZA-accredited zoos, aquariums, nature centers, and science centers to highlight creatures that may be considered “scary” to some, but are crucial for healthy ecosystems. People often associate Halloween with creepy owl calls, lone wolf howls, and sticky spider webs. Species seen as “frightening” actually play important and unique roles within their habitats, from cleaning up carrion to controlling for insects... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, October 31, 2019

Five Stars for Animals Reviewed

“Five stars, waterproof, great for winters, only comes in brown.” When Oregon Zoo’s Shervin Hess read a customer review for hiking boots, he couldn’t help but think the description was equally fitting for his favorite zoo animal, a rescued sea otter pup named Lincoln. Maybe, those same ratings could be applied to animals to educate people about vulnerable species and the important ecosystem services they provide, all while having a little bit of fun, Hess thought. From... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, October 24, 2019

AZA Announces 2019 Scholarship Recipients

To continue to grow the zoo and aquarium profession, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums must equip our members' staffs with the tools and resources necessary to advance their careers. After all, the talented, dedicated individuals within the AZA community are our strongest asset. AZA's Professional Development Program offers high-quality training opportunities and resources to meet the evolving needs of the zoo and aquarium community. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are on the... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, October 10, 2019

Working Together to End Wildlife Trafficking

Wildlife trafficking is now estimated to be the fourth most profitable transnational crime, impacting both animals and humans alike. The illegal trade in live animals and animal parts is pushing vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species to the brink of extinction. A recent UN report found that one million species of animals and plants are now at risk of extinction, listing hunting and poaching as one of the main drivers of this decline.   But through a variety of Wildlife... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thank you, AZA interns!

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums provides internship programs that help to expand students' knowledge of our non-profit organization. AZA provides interns with experience through collaborative projects, meetings and workshops, professional networking, and much more. This summer, AZA offered two internship programs: a conservation and science internship, and a communication and marketing internship. The program lasted for three months and we had three terrific interns. Meet the... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Takeaways from AZA's 2019 Annual Conference

Last week, I gathered with hundreds of zoo and aquarium professionals at AZA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, cohosted by our colleagues from the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA). This is our second time working with IMATA (first was in 2014), and I had the pleasure of joining IMATA Board Chair Kelly Flaherty Clark, of AZA-accredited Discovery Cove, in welcoming attendees from 37 countries. AZA and IMATA are stronger in achieving our... Read More
at Thursday, September 19, 2019

Save Our Scavengers

Guest post by AZA SAFE: African Vulture team, special thanks to Jacque Williamson, Brandywine Zoo; Taylor Rubin, Zoo Atlanta; and Corrine Kendall, North Carolina Zoo  Many people do not realize that when they see a vulture having a meal, they’re also seeing that vulture preventing the spread of disease. Vultures are an amazing group of beautiful, unique birds with a critical ecological role – they are nature’s cleanup crew.  By consuming carrion –... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Friday, September 6, 2019

Trade, Tourism, and Trophies—The Elephant in the Room

Blog by Dan Ashe, AZA President; John Cruden, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.; and Catherine Novelli, President, Listening for America. Elephants are amazing animals and perhaps our most enduring mental image of Africa—large, untamed, inexhaustible. That image can also distract us from the unpleasant historical and current realities of colonization and exploitation of Africa and Africans, including African elephants. Evidence of this is like air, it’s all around us.... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tourists and Travel Sites Alike Rank AZA Facilities As Best of the Best

AZA-accredited aquariums, nature centers, science centers, and zoos are consistently ranked by tourists and travel guides as the “best zoos” and "best aquariums," and for good reason. By meeting AZA’s rigorous accreditation standards, these facilities have proven they provide the highest quality animal care and welfare, a superior guest experience, a commitment to conservation and education, and more. The AZA accreditation logo signifies to guests they are... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, August 29, 2019

Conservation? Wine Not.

Conservation? Wine not. Wine events are becoming the new buzz at zoos and aquariums. These events are a great way to communicate what it means to be an AZA-accredited facility through conservation awareness. These events also benefit local wineries and help to build a community of people who are passionate about saving species and supporting zoos and aquariums. Wine Events Raise Money to Benefit AZA Accredited Facilities The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo holds two wine events that benefit... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Thursday, August 15, 2019

AZA Accredited Facilities Show #TonsOfLove for Asian Elephants

Guest post by AZA SAFE: Asian Elephant team, special thanks to Adam Felts and Danielle Ross, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium Ask any visitor at an AZA accredited zoo what they think about elephants, and the overwhelming response will be “we love them!” It’s easy to love elephants. They are one of the most recognized, adored and celebrated animals on Earth. For the everyday visitor, elephants make an unforgettable visit; and many are awestruck the first time they see one and... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Monday, August 12, 2019

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About African Lions

Fun Facts about Lions In honor of World Lion Day on August 10, we’re sharing a few fun facts about one of our favorite animals: lions.  Lions are adept animals capable of climbing trees and traversing a variety of terrains. PHOTOs COURTESY OF  www.worldlionday.com   1. They can climb trees. Lions can run as fast as 50mph in short sprints, but did you know they are able to quickly  climb trees as well? Lions are adept hunters capable of... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Celebrating Sharks for Shark Week

In honor of Shark Week, airing on Discovery Channel, we’re sharing 10 of our favorite facts about sharks! 1. There are over 500 species of sharks in the world. And counting! The Smithsonian estimates there are over 500 species of sharks , grouped into 9 orders. Shark species are continuing to be discovered today as scientists continue to explore the ocean and dive deeper into shark research. Their fossil records date back to more than 400 million years ago , and... Read More
Posted by Ashley Jones at Friday, August 2, 2019

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