L.A. Zoo Receives Prestigious Award at National Conference for Work with Endangered California Condors

CONTACT: April Spurlock

September 20, 2017

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Awards Six AZA-Accredited Zoos the 2017 North American Conservation Award For Their Collaborative Efforts

California Condor at L.A. Zoo, Photo By Tad Motoyama

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced on September 12th that the Los Angeles Zoo, along with five other AZA-accredited institutions, received AZA’s 2017 North American Conservation Award for their California Condor Bi-national Recovery and Reintroduction Program.

“We are very proud and honored to be recognized with this prestigious award,” said John Lewis, director of the Los Angeles Zoo. “California condors represent a classic example of modern zoos’ commitment to conserving species at risk.”

This annual award recognizes exceptional efforts toward regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild. For the first time this year, Top Honors winners in the North American Conservation category also received a cash award of $25,000 to support their initiatives thanks to the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation.

“This award highlights the crucial work aquariums and zoos are doing to help save threatened and endangered animals within our own backyards,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The team at Los Angeles Zoo and their partners are leaders in conserving North American wildlife, protecting California condors and our natural heritage through the Bi-national Recovery and Reintroduction Program. They are saving animals from extinction.”

In the early 1980s, scientists counted only 22 California condors left in the world. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked the Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global to step in to safeguard the species, in an effort to save it from imminent extinction. All remaining wild condors were brought into the two zoos, causing the species to be “extinct in the wild” for the first time in its 10,000-year history.

Over the next three decades, the program partners, including Oregon Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Oakland Zoo, Phoenix Zoo and Chapultepec Zoo, nongovernmental organizations, and U.S. and Mexican wildlife officials, worked tirelessly to first increase the numbers of condors, release them back into their ancestral habitat, and monitor and manage the population—both in zoos and in their native habitats.

There are now more than 450 condors on the planet, with 275 flying free in the wild in California, Arizona, Utah, and Baja California, Mexico—making the California Condor Bi-national Recovery and Reintroduction Program a noteworthy conservation success story.

The recovery of the California condor from the brink of extinction was made possible due to the dedication and collaboration of many conservation organizations. Those organizations include the Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo Global, the Oregon Zoo, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Oakland Zoo, and the Phoenix Zoo — along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the World Center for Birds of Prey, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Ventana Wildlife Society, and, in Mexico, the Chapultepec Zoo and the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, or CONANP).

About the Los Angeles Zoo
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.6 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered. Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $21 for adults and $16 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo Web site at www.lazoo.org.

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 seven 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 www.aza.org.