AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums enhance local and regional economies, collectively generating $16 billion in annual economic activity and supporting more than 142,000 jobs.
As centers for conservation involvement, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide the public with essential connections to the natural world. The 223 zoos and aquariums accredited by the AZA attract more than 179 million visitors every year. Approximately 50 million visitors are children, making accredited zoos and aquariums essential family-friendly, community-based assets.
According to a 2008 national public opinion survey [i] 79 percent of Americans believe that zoos and aquariums are good for their local economy, and an impressive 80 percent believe that zoos and aquariums are important enough to local communities to be supported by government funding.
In the last 10 years, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums formally trained more than 400,000 teachers, supporting science curricula with effective teaching materials and hands-on opportunities. A 2009 National Research Council report found "abundant evidence that these programs and settings, contribute to people's knowledge and interest in science" and that they can "significantly improve outcomes for individuals from groups that are historically under represented in science." [ii]
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are leaders in the protection of endangered species. The AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program is a long-term plan for conservation breeding, habitat preservation, field conservation, and supportive research to ensure survival for many of the planet's threatened and endangered species.
Annually, more than 60,000 people invest over 3,000,000 hours supporting their communities by volunteering at zoos and aquariums.
Highly-trained staff at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are providing excellent care for more than 700,000 animals. As part of AZA's mandatory accreditation process, AZA members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, veterinary care, wildlife conservation, scientific research, education, safety, staffing, and more.
[i] PRIME Group, nationwide online survey of n=2,020, sample drawn from U.S. population census representative panel, interviews from July 1 to July 10, margin of sampling error is +/- 2.2 percentage points.
[ii] The full National Research Council Report is available from the National Academy of Science online at http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12190