Attractions industry news

06 Sep 2018

AZA's US$1bn conservation target on track after record year

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is on target to spend US$1bn (€859m, £772m) on conservation efforts within the next five years, after the organisation reported record breaking contributions from its members benefitting multiple initiatives worldwide.

In 2017, AZA members funded a record-breaking US$220m (€189m, £170m) for field conservation initiatives. Included within that figure, AZA members contributed US$15.7m (€13.5m, £12.1m) towards the organisation's SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) programme – a scheme that prioritises strategic planning for field conservation within the AZA community and builds on existing recovery plans for the world’s most threatened species.

“AZA and its member facilities are committed to a mission of conserving wildlife and wild places,” said Dan Ashe, AZA president and CEO.

“We are consistently increasing efforts to save species from extinction through AZA SAFE and other local and international projects. We are well on the way to meeting and exceeding our ambitious goal to invest US$1bn in conservation within the next five years."

Revealed as part of the AZA's Annual Report on Conservation and Science (ARCS), in 2017, the organisation's members ran conservation programmes in 128 countries, which the report says benefitted 863 species and subspecies. More than 280 of those were listed as endangered or threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.

The report also highlighted AZA members' efforts in education, research and green practice.

In 2017, AZA-accredited and certified facilities reported carrying out 2,800 education programmes that helped raise awareness about conservation issues and inspired visitors to protect nature, reaching an audience of more than 70 million.

The AZA community also spent US$25m (€21.5m, £19.3m) on research in 2017, conducting 1,280 research projects and advancing scientific knowledge of 485 species and subspecies, the majority focusing on animal care, health, welfare, and species and habitat conservation.

Members also engaged in sustainable business practices such as recycling, composting, growing the food they sell on-site or sourcing it locally, and purchasing or producing renewable energy. According to the AZA report, its facilities recycled more than 88,000 tons of materials and generated or purchased more than 39 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy.

"The knowledge AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have developed to manage the animals in our care is now being directly applied to species in the wild," said Ashe.

"The conservation area is constantly changing while AZA and our partners continue to develop expertise to save species."

To read the ARCS report, click here.

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