From condors in California to corals in the Caribbean and from hunting dogs in Africa to hornbills in Asia, Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities are engaging with some of the most pressing conservation issues facing endangered species around the world.
Saving Animals From Extinction
The challenges facing wildlife and habitats are numerous and complex, making it difficult for any single organization to offer comprehensive answers. However, the network of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums is well placed to find solutions. Through SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction, the AZA community’s flagship conservation program, zoos and aquariums are focusing their collective expertise and engaging their 181 million guests to save the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protect them for future generations.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums aren’t just talking the talk, they are walking the walk. In 2021, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, $208 million was spent on conservation programs. Over a five-year period, the AZA community has spent more than $1 billion on conservation in a remarkable collective effort to save some of the world’s most endangered species and habitats.
But money isn’t a guarantee of success — it must be coupled with expertise. Staff at AZA member facilities bring years of research and a deep understanding of the biology and needs of a wide range of species, both in zoos and aquariums and in the wild.
There are few communities anywhere that match the talent and animal knowledge that exist within the AZA community. In a world where wild spaces are coming under increasing pressure and are rapidly shrinking, the animal care and welfare expertise that exists in accredited zoos and aquariums will grow in importance as we look to save increasingly beleaguered populations of endangered animals.
Wildlife Trafficking Alliance
AZA is also home to the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, a coalition of more than 80 leading companies, nonprofit organizations, and AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums working together to reduce the purchase and sale of illegal wildlife and wildlife products.
What does WTA do?
- Raises the public’s awareness of the scope of the wildlife trafficking crisis
- Affects behavior change to reduce consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products
- Mobilizes companies to adopt best practices to ensure their goods and services are not being utilized by illegal wildlife traffickers
- Assists in raising public awareness and reducing demand
People Advancing Conservation Together
What is the most important piece of the conservation puzzle? People.
For any conservation solution to be effective and enduring, it needs to involve local communities that live with the realities of existing shoulder to shoulder with wildlife. They must have a voice. Recognizing this truth, the AZA community created People Advancing Conservation Together to better integrate people into conservation.
Together, we can create the healthy habitats, sustainable fisheries, legal and sustainable wildlife trade, thriving native species, clean land, air, and water for all, and mitigation of, and resilience to, climate change that would help people and species.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom is proud to share the amazing conservation stories of many AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. You can read these hopeful stories here.