From the Desk of Dan Ashe

Raise a Glass for Conservation

For dozens of AZA-accredited facilities, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer event season, including many “Brew at the Zoo” events. Over the summer, our members across the country will host unique, fun, 21-and-over events.  Whether featuring local craft beer or animal-inspired cocktails, summertime adult-only zoo brew events allow our facilities to connect with their community and to engage those who are seeking a unique way to support their local AZA member’s conservation work.

Too often, I hear adults forgo aquarium and zoo experiences, believing they are “just for kids.” Yet this same community cares immensely for animals, with 87% of adults in the U.S. reporting they are willing to help save animals from extinction. “ZooBrew” and “Wine in the Wild” events go beyond an opportunity to socialize over drinks, they also feature animal encounters, educational talks by dedicated professional staff, and opportunities to bring new visitors to the facility and see conservation in action.  And through fundraising opportunities, these events have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for facility operations and large-scale wildlife research projects.

Several of our AZA-accredited facilities have also partnered directly with local breweries and small businesses to develop innovative animal and zoo-inspired drinks, the proceeds from which will fund conservation all year round.

• Lincoln Park Zoo and Chicago’s DryHop Brewers debuted the creation of a new coconut milk stout, “Coco Loro,” made with Puerto Rican rum flavors. The drink is named in honor of the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot, with part of the profits from sales benefitting the species after much of its habitat was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

• Florida Aquarium and Coppertail Brewing have created “Coral Haze,” pale ale, brewed from hops grown at the Florida Aquarium. Coppertail is donating $1 per every pint sold to support Florida Aquarium’s work to reproduce staghorn coral and help create more resilient coral reefs.

• Oregon Zoo, Rogue pubs, and retail stores throughout Oregon will offer Rogue Ales’ new Condor Kolsch, with a portion of proceeds benefitting Oregon Zoo’s California Condor recovery program.

• Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium and Zipline Brewing Co. are kicking off a summer Zoo Brew series with the announcement of Red Panda Wheat beer, brewed with bamboo. Teach of the four limited edition beers in the series will support conservation initiatives of a different animal species and worldwide conservation projects.

• Lincoln Children’s Zoo partnered with local brewer Empyrean Ales to create a custom, seasonal “Zookeeper” IPA. With help from Empyrean and community B&R stores, $1 from every case sold will directly benefit the zoo and help complete the largest expansion in the zoo’s history.

• Georgia Aquarium and Red Brick Brewing Co. announced the fourth seasonal release of a sea-life inspired beer, Sea Dragon Basil Blonde, with proceeds supporting research and husbandry efforts on behalf of sea dragons. This summer, the Aquarium will also bring back its one-of-a-kind Whale Shark Wheat ale.

• Great Plains Zoo worked with Fernson Brewing Company last year to create a limited-edition “Zoo Brew” to help fund the zoo’s brown bear exhibit. This year, they’ve partnered again, and are dedicating $2 from every six-pack sold to support the Great Plains Zoo's new lion exhibit.

• South Carolina Aquarium and Pawley’s Island Brewing Company will release “What the Shell!” this weekend, a local pilsner-style beer whose sale in local restaurants will help support benefit the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center.

Through events like these, we can raise awareness about conservation and saving species. Will you be raising a glass to help support zoos and aquariums conservation mission this summer? To find your local AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium, visit

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