Honors and Awards

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Call for Excellence!

Honors and Awards Applications due June 1, 2016

It's time again to share your successes and exceptional work and nominate your programs for AZA Honors and Awards. Applications and guidelines for the 2016 Awards will are now available on the individual award links on the left side of this page. The winning applications from the past few years are available there as well (with your member login). All applications are due at the end of the day on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

The awards (listed below) will be presented at the 2016 AZA Annual Conference (September 7 - 11) in San Diego, California hosted by San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld San Diego.   

  • Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award
  • Education Award (two budget categories)
  • Volunteer Engagement Award (two budget categories)
  • Excellence in Marketing Award (two budget categories)
  • Green Award 
  • Edward H. Bean Award
  • Exhibit Award (two budget categories)
  • North American Conservation Award
  • International Conservation Award
Feel free to contact Barbara Pueschel at bpueschel@aza.org if you have any questions. 

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

Awards conferred via Nomination 

R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence

The 2015 honoree - David L. Towne, Director Emeritus, Woodland Park Zoo

The 2013 honoree - Palmer "Satch" Krantz, President and CEO, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

The 2010 honoree - Karen Sausman, President Emeritus, The Living Desert

The 2008 honoree - Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Deadline: December 15 annually

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

The 2015 honoree - Cheryl S. Asa, PhD, 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 (AZA) 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 2015 are due by June 1.

Deadline: June 1 annually

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

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.

Previous Winners
  • 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

Wendy Fisher Award for Professional Excellence

The 2012 honoree - Kevin McNicholas, K-M Concessions and Service Systems Associates (SSA)

The 2010 honoree - Charles M. Davis, FAIA, EHDD Architecture

The 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.

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