From the Desk of Dan Ashe

AZA Partnering in the March for Science

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

On April 22, 2017 – Earth Day – thousands of citizens will unite their voices in support of science, in what is being called the March for Science. The website for this effort includes this mission statement:

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

Each facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) contributes to the advancement of zoological science, and applies science in the care of animals. AZA-accredited facilities employ thousands of scientists, and support hundreds more at conservation organizations and field sites around the globe.

AZA members are making expansive efforts to reach and inspire a new generation of scientists and conservationists. Here are some incredible highlights from 2015: You invested more than $5 million on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, reaching 2.3 million visitors; you hosted 51 million elementary, middle and high school students; you conducted over 1,000 mission-focused research projects, representing a $28 million commitment. Somewhere, in one of your aquariums or zoos, that special spark of intellectual curiosity is lighting a fire of inspiration in tomorrow's Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, or Silvia Earle.

Your scientific expertise is driving innovations in building a genomic species bank, combatting wildlife trafficking, designing marine protected areas, monitoring ocean health and many more real-world contributions in protecting nature and saving animals from extinction.

In a time when “belief” in science seems to be waning, AZA-accredited facilities are educating millions of visitors on a variety of issues including climate change, the growing problem of plastics pollution and why conservation of species and habitat is crucial to all of our futures. Science, and public confidence in scientific information, is among the reasons so many people visit and trust AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos.

The AZA believes that science should inform all contemporary animal care and management, husbandry, veterinary medicine and conservation. AZA will aggressively advocate for policies, regulations and permitting decisions that keep this principle in mind. And for these reasons, AZA has joined the March for Science as a partner organization.

Some may attempt to exploit or criticize this as a partisan political issue, and certainly there will be voices of partisanship in and around this March for Science. Our endorsement reflects our core commitment to science, and our agreement with the mission statement cited above. We believe in science as a pillar of human progress, freedom and prosperity. Therefore, we unite as part of a diverse and nonpartisan voice to support expanded investment in science and its application to inform public interest policy.

Whether marching literally or digitally in April, AZA and its members are proud to stand with and for science. Adding our name as a partner in the March for Science, I believe, expresses our commitment.


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