Research Award

Established in 2020, the Research Award recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA Accredited, Related Facility or Conservation Partner members to advance the body of scientific knowledge as it relates to providing excellent welfare for the animals in our care, understanding biological principles, advancing field conservation efforts, and maximizing our impact on visitors. Submissions should be for AZA mission-focused research on:

  • Applied research that informs our understanding and management of animals, including reproduction, nutrition, epidemiology, sensory biology, physiology, population biology, behavior, welfare, etc.;
  • Basic research that focuses on increasing understanding of fundamental biological principles, including evolutionary biology, physiology, behavior, etc.;
  • Applied research that advances species, habitat, or ecosystem conservation;
  • Research that advances the field in terms of communicating with, educating, engaging, and understanding our audiences (visitors’ studies, marketing, interpretation, exhibit design, education programming, conservation engagement).

If there is any question as to what constitutes an eligible project, please email Rob Vernon or call (301) 244-3352.

How to Submit an Application 

2023 application materials are available below. Applications are due June 16, 2023.
Past recipients' application materials are available below.  

All Honors and Awards applications must be submitted in electronic format ONLY and must be compiled into one PDF file. Please make sure the file name reflects both the award name and the institution.

Please upload your file to the AZA Dropbox link in the Application document below. Your file will go to the AZA Dropbox account, but you do not need to sign in, or even have a Dropbox account to use this link—when it opens, just click on the “choose files” box and upload your application.

Remember to submit a Media Release Form (DOC) with your application.

Research Award Recipients

See past recipients' application materials (member login required)


Top Honors
Wilder Institue/Calgary Zoo for Integrating genetics, behaviour, and ecology to align with a novel stepping-stone approach for Vancouver Island Marmots and other critically endangered species


Top Honors
Zoo Atlanta for Great Ape Heart Project

Significant Achievement

  • Lincoln Park Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Seneca Park Zoo, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Brandywine Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo for The Urban Wildlife Information Network
  • Lincoln Park Zoo for Testing with Touchscreens: Studying Primate Cognition and Welfare and Facilitating Public Engagement with Research in a Zoo Setting

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