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.
We see it as the community sets new records annually for delivering resources to field conservation efforts, exceeding $230 million in 2018 benefitting more than 800 species in 130 countries.
We see it as educators at AZA-accredited facilities develop new and more impactful ways to educate 200 million visitors about the importance of wildlife and wild places and the actions they can take to safeguard the planet.
We see it in our 7,000 individual members who are collectively committed to the AZA vision of a world where all people respect, value and conserve wildlife and wild places.
As a community, we share what works so that our colleagues don’t reinvent the wheel. In doing so, we advance animal wellness and conservation. We develop and implement new reproductive techniques, such as the first births of southern white rhinos via artificial insemination at San Diego Zoo Global in San Diego, Calif., giving hope to the functionally extinct northern white rhino.
We reintroduce and recover endangered species such as the California condor, black-footed ferret, and Kihansi spray toad. We conduct critical research that advances animal care, health, and welfare as well as conservation and habitat protection for wild populations.
And we are actively engaged in the global zoo and aquarium community. AZA and many of its members are also members of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, bringing our collective knowledge and experience to help advance zoo and aquarium standards and contributions to welfare, education, and conservation around the world.
A rising tide, as they say, lifts all boats.
The AZA community continues to grow in number, geography, and diversity. Among our newest members are small facilities such as ZooMontana in Billings, Mont., and Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Ill., inspiring the next generation of conservationists in their communities. And facilities such as Everland Zoo in Yongin, and Seoul Zoo in Seoul, the two largest facilities in South Korea, are growing AZA’s presence in Asia.
AZA now has members in 12 countries, educating visitors and sharing our animal welfare and conservation messages in North America, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. In 2020, we will take stock of our international footprint and develop a strategic plan to guide AZA’s international membership goals.
Every AZA member zoo and aquarium is doing its part to make the world a better place. Collectively, we are greater than the sum of our parts.
We are going farther, together.