From the Desk of Dan Ashe

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 their support for key issues affecting our community. Since 2001, our annual meeting with Congress has enabled us to advocate anti-trafficking legislation and support for marine mammal rescue, science education, and wildlife conservation.  

Photo of Dan Ashe at Congressional Reception

AZA and its accredited zoos and aquariums promote legislative and regulatory actions that help save animals from extinction. We work with government officials on matters pertaining to animal welfare, wildlife conservation field programs, conservation research, endangered species conservation, education initiatives and the public display of wildlife including animal care, transport and conservation breeding. We work closely with the 61-member bipartisan Zoo and Aquarium Caucus in the House of Representatives to educate the public about the positive impacts of our facilities as centers of science education, research, and conservation.

AZA advocates discussed critical issues with legislators, issues on which AZA is actively supporting to achieve our mission of protecting wildlife and wild places.

-We are working closely with government and international partners to combat the wildlife trafficking crisis by strengthening enforcement against illegal poaching and trade. We support H.R. 864, the "Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act, and encouraging Congress members to co-sponsor and pass this important bipartisan bill.

-We are asking Congress to reauthorize the Save Vanishing Species Semipostal Stamp. The stamp benefits the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF), which support private-public partnerships to protect African and Asian elephants, great apes, marine turtles, rhinos, and tigers in their native habitats. 

-We continue to advocate for a robust, comprehensive Endangered Species Act and oppose attempts to weaken or eliminate protections for animals at risk of extinction.

Our reception at Capitol Hill, co-hosted by the Honorable Daniel Lipinski and the Honorable Jeff Fortenberry, was a great success.  Many thanks to the Elmwood Park Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and Philadelphia Zoo, who made this experience even more memorable by educating legislators firsthand about our animal ambassadors, including a rescued and rehabilitated Eastern screech owl, critically endangered Panamanian golden frogs, and other species threatened by the illegal wildlife trade.

Our work would not be complete without the help of the public. Please contact your representatives and senators urging them to support and fund for these critical programs.

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