SAFE uses a unique collaborative process which incorporates a wide-range of species-specific expertise from AZA members and non-government and government partners to identify the conservation actions needed to protect SSS. SAFE 3-year Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) are then developed which include science-based conservation projects that have been agreed upon and prioritized by the stakeholders. Employees at AZA-accredited aquariums or zoos serve as SAFE Conservation Action Plan Project Coordinators. These Coordinators secure a strong Project Team and assure that forward momentum on the project is consistent.
In July 2015, ten inaugural SAFE Signature Species (SSS) were identified including the African penguin, Asian elephant, black rhinoceros, cheetah, gorillas, sea turtles, sharks and rays, vaquita, Western pond turtle, and whooping crane.
Vaquita photo credit Paula Olson, permit Oficio No. DR/488/08 from the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT)