Honors & Awards

Time to Trumpet Your Successes!

It's time again to share your successes and exceptional work and nominate your programs for AZA Honors and Awards.  All applications are due at the end of the day on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

New this year! A cash award for TOP HONORS in the North American Conservation category thanks to the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation.

The awards will be presented at the 2017 AZA Annual Conference (September 9 - 13) in Indianapolis, IN hosted by the Indianapolis Zoo. Applications and Guidelines for each award can be found on the individual links on the right hand side of this page. The winning applications from the past few years are also available on the individual award pages (with your member login).

  •          Edward H. Bean Award
  •          Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award
  •          Education Award (two budget categories)
  •          Excellence in Marketing Award (two budget categories)
  •          Exhibit Award (two budget categories)
  •          Green Award
  •          International Conservation Award
  •          North American Conservation Award
  •          Volunteer Engagement Award (two budget categories)

Also due on June 1 are the nominations for these individual awards:

  •          Devra Kleiman Scientific Advancement Award
  •          Tim O’Sullivan Award for Professional Development
  •          Wendy Fisher Award for Professional Excellence

Feel free to contact Barbara Pueschel at bpueschel@aza.org if you have any questions.

Keith Winsten
Executive Director, Brevard Zoo
Chair, Honors and Awards Committee


Awards Conferred via Nomination

R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence

  • 2016 Honoree: Chuck Bieler, Executive Director Emeritus, San Diego Zoo Global
  • 2015 Honoree: David L. Towne, Director Emeritus, Woodland Park Zoo
  • 2013 Honoree: Palmer "Satch" Krantz, President and CEO, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
  • 2010 Honoree: Karen Sausman, President Emeritus, The Living Desert
  • 2008 Honoree: Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In 1978, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums established its highest award for professional excellence, named for its first recipient, R. Marlin Perkins. Only one recipient can be honored in any given year, and since the award criteria are lofty, it is anticipated that the award will not be given every year.

Nominations are accepted year-round and are due no later than December 15th of the year preceding the year in which the award is to be conferred.

The Devra Kleiman Scientific Advancement Award

  • 2016 Honoree: Jonathan D. Ballou, Ph.D., Research Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution
  • 2015 Honoree: Cheryl S. Asa, Ph.D., Director of Research, Saint Louis Zoo
  • First Award presented posthumously to Devra Kleiman in 2014 at the AZA Annual Conference in Orlando

In March, 2014, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums established an award to recognize outstanding scientific research contributions to the field(s) of animal management, education, and/or conservation within the AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium community. This award, named for its first recipient Devra Kleiman, honors an individual’s long-term commitment to using science-based research and mentoring others to advance the zoo and aquarium profession. Only one recipient can be honored in any given year, and since the award criteria are lofty, it is anticipated that the award will not be given every year. Nominations for 2017 are due by June 1.

Devra Kleiman Award Nomination Guidelines

Tim O'Sullivan Award for Professional Development

  • 2015 Recipient: Bruce Bohmke, Chief Operations Officer, Woodland Park Zoo
  • 2013 Recipient: Steve Marshall, Director, El Paso Zoo
  • 2012 Recipient: Kevin Willis, Director of Biological Programs, Minnesota Zoo
  • 2008 Recipient: Margaret A. Dankworth, AZA Executive Director 1972 - 1975
  • 2007 Recipient: John Hargleroad, Operations Director, Oglebay Park
  • 2005 Recipient: Earl Wells, Retired Director, Fort Wayne Children's Zoo (awarded posthumously)
  • 2004 Recipient: Bruce Carr, PhD, AZA Director of Conservation Education 

Deadline: June 1 annually
The Tim O'Sullivan Award for Professional Development recognizes significant long-term individual achievement and service to AZA members through the AZA Professional Development Program and the AZA Board of Regents.

About the Tim O'Sullivan Award

Wendy Fisher Award for Professional Excellence

  • 2012 Honoree: Kevin McNicholas, K-M Concessions and Service Systems Associates (SSA)
  • 2010 Honoree: Charles M. Davis, FAIA, EHDD Architecture
  • 2007 Honoree: Joyce Basel, Adventure Boutique, Inc.

Deadline: June 1 annually
Commercial Members who have demonstrated outstanding character, leadership, professional excellence and distinguished service to AZA and fellow Commercial Members. The award is named for its first recipient, Wendy Fisher.

Wendy Fisher Award nomination form and guidelines

Honorary Membership Award

The AZA Board of Directors has instituted a moratorium on nominations for Honorary Membership while the Membership Committee and the Board of Directors are in the process of evaluating all membership categories.

AZA has created a special membership category to recognize both members and non-members who have made significant contributions to the profession. Candidates should not be working in the zoo or aquarium profession and are elected by the Board of Directors.

List of Honorary Membership recipients

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