ZAA Awards

The 2023 application deadline has past. The 2024 Award Application will be accepted from January 1 - July 31, 2024.


Educational Award of Excellence

The ZAA Educational Award of Excellence recognizes outstanding achievement and innovation in education program design and implementation.

The Zoo in Forest Park
Keeper Internship Program

This program launched more than 20 years ago and continues to be full and often holds a waiting list of hopeful, college-aged participants. The newest version encompasses all that it means to be a zookeeper, including daily husbandry tasks, educational programming opportunities, large-event experiences, and enrichment creation for a variety of taxa utilizing a college course-level syllabus. Interns are required to volunteer for two 8.5-hour shifts per week, for a total of at least 180 hours of service during their time at The Zoo, and complete both assigned and self-guided projects.


Significant Propagation and Long Term Commitment to a Single Species

This award recognizes institutions that have reached significant propagation goals and have dedicated outstanding commitment to a single species.

The Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College
Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly

Initially thought to be extinct, the Paolo Verdes Blue Butterfly was rediscovered in 1994; that last population contained an estimated 69 individuals. To date, a cooperative conservation success story with many partners including The Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College, The Urban Wildlands Group, The Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, U.S. Navy, and more, have produced over 31,000 pupae over 20 seasons and released over 20,000 individuals into the wild spread over 7 different fragments of restored habitat within their historic range. 

Wolf Park, Inc.
Gray Wolf

Since 1972, Wolf Park has been committed to gray wolf conservation. Wolf Park’s mission drives us to educate the public on the benefits that wolves provide to our environment. In order to achieve that, our founder, Dr. Erich Klinghammer believed that socializing wolves reduced stress while allowing care to continue over the lifecourse of the animal. Over the past 52 years, utilizing scientific and practical knowledge our protocols for raising 30 pup litters evolved allowing us to ensure that we afforded the animals with the best care we could provide. Each litter receives thousands of socialization hours prior to being released back into their habitats to ensure that they are ready for their lives in human care.

Catoctin Wildlife Preserve
Sulawesi Island Macaques, 

In 1972, the Preserve acquired their first group of Sulawesi Island Macaques and over the last 50 years they have made gradual upgrades to their exhibit which have allowed them to improve husbandry and animal welfare. Their new Ochreata exhibit was constructed 2020-2023 and has allowed them to have space to separate animals if needed but still maintain the group together in the same space. They currently have a very large family group of roughly 30 individuals of Ochreata and 8 Tonkeana. Their Ochreata group ranges from babies to a grandma who is around 23 years old.


Animal Exhibit Award of Excellence

The ZAA Animal Exhibit Award of Excellence recognizes excellence in the area of new and unique live animal display, exhibit design and construction.

Monterey Zoo
“Insert RHINO” Exhibit/Project

The exhibit was a retrofit of one originally designed for elephants to accommodate new rhinos in collaboration with other facilities. Species-specific enrichment was added, as well as a dedicated medical space, extra safety features, and an extensive array of cameras for monitoring. Most exhibit features were created in-house and the program has been a great success for both the rhinos and the public.


In Situ Conservation

The ZAA In-Situ Conservation Award recognizes significant contributions to enhancing the conservation of an animal species in nature.

Feline Conservation Foundation
Geoffroy's Cat 

The Feline Conservation Foundation's Geoffroy’s Cat Working Group has several action plans in place for conservation of the endangered Geoffroy's Cat, including educational programs and awareness campaigns with local children to reduce future threats. They are also conducting surveys and monitoring of wildcat populations in different regions of their distribution, aligning and applying government policies, creating partnerships and funding for existing rescue, rehabilitation, and release facilities, and implementing actions to reduce pedestrian accidents. Additionally, they are using social media to raise public awareness and carry out environmental education campaigns in local communities, which helps to reduce conflicts.


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