Honors & Awards

 2018 SSP Sustainability Award -  Lion SSP

The 2018 winner, Lion SSP, was announced by Larry Killmar, Chair of the Wildlife Conservation Management Committee, at the Mid-Year Meeting in Jacksonville, FL on March 28, 2018.

Honors and Awards Applications due June 1, 2018

It's time again to share your successes and exceptional work and nominate your programs for AZA Honors and Awards. The 2018 Applications and Guidelines for each award are available on the individual award pages listed on the right of this page. All applications are due at the end of the day on Friday, June 1, 2018. Winning applications from the past few years can be found on the individual pages as well and accessed with your member log-in.

New this year—a most appropriate renaming of the International Conservation Award honoring one of the foremost conservationists in the zoo and aquarium world. And we are happy to announce that the TOP HONORS winner(s) of the William G. Conway International Conservation Award will receive a cash award—thanks to the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation. The North American Conservation TOP HONORS winner(s) will also receive this generous award from the Foundation.

The awards will be presented at the 2018 AZA Annual Conference (September 23- 27) in Seattle, Washington hosted by the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo. 

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

And New This Year!

The applications and guidelines for the 2018 SSP Awards are here and the deadline has been extended to January 26, 2018.

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

Sue Chin
Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect
Wildlife Conservation Society
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. 

Animal Welfare Lifetime Achievement Award

Established July, 2017
Animal welfare is a critical part of modern professional animal care, and there are many animals that have benefited from the dedication of animal welfare practitioners. Individuals within the AZA community who have moved the field of animal welfare forward through implementation, research, education, veterinary care and professional development that improves animal lives deserve to and should be recognized.  The Animal Welfare Individual Leadership Award honors a person who significantly influences the quality of animals’ lives through long-term personal commitment to the field of animal welfare.  The significant contributions can be in the form of animal management, professional development, education, research, and/or exhibit design.  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 2018 are due by June 1.

Animal Welfare Lifetime Achievement Award Nomination Guidelines

The Devra Kleiman Scientific Advancement Award

  • 2017 Honoree: Kathy Carlstead, Ph.D.
  • 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 2018 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

  • 2017 Honoree: Gary H. Lee, AIA, RLA, Co-Founder and Senior Principal, CLR Design, Inc.
  • 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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