ZAA Awards

2021 Award Applications
Application deadline: July 31, 2021

2020 ZAA Award Winners

Educational Award of Excellence


Cougar Mountain Zoo
Zoo2U

The ZAA Educational Award of Excellence recognizes outstanding achievement and innovation in education program design and implementation.  Cougar Mountain Zoo's Zoo2U Education Series was awarded for their outstanding achievement and innovation in education program design and implementation.  The Zoo2U debuted in March 2020, offering regularly scheduled educational videos and live streams on various wildlife and conservation topics free of charge via social media.   The Zoo2U programs created an outreach connection to a worldwide audience to view and engage in the challenges to wildlife species.

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Excellence in Breeding

Frank Buck Zoo
Three-banded armadillo

The ZAA Excellence in Breeding Award recognizes a truly momentous captive propagation achievement that enhances the conservation of the species, whether common or endangered, in captivity. Frank Buck Zoo's success with three-banded armadillos included the design of a vulva condition scoring guide for daily observations to track time between cycles and to indicate with the female was close to giving birth.  Seven additional offspring have been produced since the first birth in 2015.

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Significant Propagation and Long Term Commitment to a Single Species

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Addax, Addax nasomaculatus

This award recognizes institutions that have reached significant propagation goals and have dedicated outstanding commitment to a single species. Fossil Rim has housed addax since 1970. With a main herd that currently consists of 50+ animals living on 400+ acres, Fossil Rim has recorded over 700 births! Some of the many accomplishments during the past 50 years include: Assisted in DNA analysis and herd management for multiple male groups, worked on artificial insemination projects, body conditioning studies, modeled numerous population scenarios, and focused for a paper on blood parameters.  Fossil Rim also participated in the release of a pilot group of 15 Addax in Chad.

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Animal Exhibit Award of Excellence

Frank Buck Zoo
Prairie Dog Exhibit

The ZAA Animal Exhibit Award of Excellence recognizes excellence in the area of new and unique live animal display, exhibit design and construction. Frank Buck Zoo for upgraded and re-purposed their porcupine enclosure to provide a unique live animal display for black tailed prairie dogs.  The new exhibit includes keepers the ability to provide improved health care, training, and reproductive management; a  larger, more engaging footprint for the animals; and an exhibit length glass viewing window for the visitors.

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In Situ Conservation

Dakota Zoo
Black Footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes

The ZAA In-Situ Conservation Award recognizes significant contributions to enhancing the conservation of an animal species in nature. Since 2013 the Dakota Zoo has assisted Prairie Wildlife Research and staff from the National Grasslands with spotlighting, capturing, vaccinating, microchipping, and rereleasing black-footed ferrets in the Conata Basin of South Dakota. In all they have committed $65,000 in labor, fuel and equipment expenses. A significant grant from Dakota Zoo funded the purchase of a“Laboratory on Wheels”that is used for for field work with the ferrets. Dakota Zoo has set aside a portion of their paid admission and memberships towards their conservation fund and developed an interactive kiosk in their Discovery Center for visitors to understand how the conservation funds help wildlife.

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Ex Situ Conservation


San Antonio Zoo
Mexican Freshwater Fish Program

The ZAA EX-Situ Conservation Award recognizes excellence in captive care, welfare and propagation of animal species in captivity, as a hedge against extinction. San Antonio Zoo for their work with five species of Mexican endemic freshwater fish with IUCN Red List designations ranging from endangered to extinct in the wild: Minckley’s Cichlid, Tequila Splitfin, San Marcos Redtail Splitfin, La Palma Pupfish, and Charco Palma Pupfish. Since starting in 2017 San Antonio Zoo has already reached a primary goal of mastering reproductive strategies to maintain a stable assurance population with all 5 species reproducing successfully. Long term goals of this project include playing a prominent role toward repatriation of these fish to their home range within Mexico and developing  a husbandry/reproductive manual.

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