Critical Wildlife Conservation and Research Projects Funded by AZA-Accredited Zoos and Aquariums

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Nearly $250,000 will be awarded to 13 projects that benefit wildlife and wild places.

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The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) today announced AZA Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) grants totaling nearly $250,000 to be awarded to 13 projects.

“AZA’s Conservation Grants Fund provides support to AZA members who are working to expand our knowledge about wildlife species and the threats they face in their natural ranges,” said AZA Senior Vice President of Conservation and Science Dr. Debborah Luke. “These scientists, wildlife experts and educators are collecting valuable information about animal biology, reproduction, welfare and health. As a result of this work, we are all better positioned to assure that the future of threatened and endangered species is protected.”

Established in 1984, the AZA Conservation Grants Fund is a competitive grants program that supports the cooperative conservation-related scientific and educational initiatives of AZA members and their partners. Major areas of funding for conservation and animal care are represented including research, field conservation, education and outreach, animal welfare, animal health and animal management. Many Conservation Grants Fund projects are collaborations among AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and state, federal and international wildlife agencies, academia and other conservation organizations.

Since 1991, the CGF has provided more than $7 million to almost 390 projects worldwide. These funds are raised through private and corporate contributions, including support from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF). Publications resulting from grant recipients are available on AZA’s website.

Anyone may support next year’s conservation projects by donating online at

After a competitive review of 79 applications, 13 projects were chosen to be funded for 2016. AZA congratulates the 2016 Conservation Grants Fund recipients:

Conserving Buddha's Giants
Shermin de Silva, PhD, Trunks & Leaves, Inc.

Effective Rehabilitation of a Distressed Species: Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda
Barry Hartup, DVM, PhD, International Crane Foundation

Giant Armadillos as a Flagship Species for Conserving the Atlantic Forest Biome in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
Arnaud Desbiez, PhD, Zoo Conservation Outreach Group

Grassland Skipper Conservation and Headstarting Program
Stephen Petersen, PhD, Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Guam Kingfisher Release Phase I: Preparing for Assisted Colonization on Palmyra Atoll
Susan Haig, PhD, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Dylan Kesler, PhD, The Institute for Bird Populations
Megan Laut, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Impact of Allowing Mate Choice on Reproductive Success and Animal Welfare
Lance Miller, PhD, Timothy Snyder, and Robert Lacy, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo
Cheryl Asa, PhD and Corinne Kozlowski, PhD, Saint Louis Zoo

Linking In-Situ and Ex-Situ Populations of Threatened Amphibians: Using the Puerto Rican Crested Toad and Chiricahua Leopard Frog as a Model
Andrew Kouba, PhD and Scott Willard, PhD, Mississippi State University
Diane Barber, Fort Worth Zoo

Mississippi River Mussel Propagation and Citizen Science Project
Andrew Allison, The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Real-Time Anti-Poaching and Survival Monitoring for Reintroduced Scimitar-Horned Oryx in Chad
Jared Stabach, PhD, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park

Reducing Threats to Cheetah, Lion and Wild Dog Populations in Zambia Through the Application of SMART Law Enforcement Monitoring
Richard Bergl, PhD, North Carolina Zoo

Saving Sea Turtles in Nicaragua
Katherine Holmes, Wildlife Conservation Society

Securing the Captive Breeding Program of the Endangered Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri) in the Chaco Region of Paraguay    
Juan Campos Krauer, DVM, PhD, Proyecto Tagua - Centro Chaqueño para la Conservación e Investigación

Time Is of the Essence: Identifying Poisoning Hotspots and Key Conservation Areas for Critically Endangered Vultures in Northern Kenya
Darcy Ogada, PhD, The Peregrine Fund
Ann Knutson, San Diego Zoo

About AZA
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

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