Welcome to the website of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). WAZA is an association of zoological institutions that has served as a global forum for our professional activities and aspirations since being founded, in 1935, as the International Association of Directors of Zoological Gardens. From those early days as a small but powerful group of leaders of major zoos and aquariums, WAZA has evolved into a much more broad-based organisation, dedicated to the ultimate vision that the full conservation potential of zoos and aquariums is realised.
With over 330 members – zoos, aquariums, corporate partners and national/regional zoo associations – WAZA increasingly serves as the voice of the worldwide zoo and aquarium community and as a catalyst for their collective conservation action, institutional and collection sustainability, public awareness and collegiality. WAZA is uniquely both a membership services provider and an international conservation organisation.
The enormous potential of the audience of zoos and aquariums under the WAZA umbrella – more than 700 million visitors each year – is a powerful but still untapped resource for driving conservation change, in a world where species and ecosystems are facing unprecedented pressures. The opportunity to engage, educate and impact positive behaviour change amongst this huge audience is perhaps the greatest opportunity WAZA members represent. WAZA's role is to facilitate and to some extent coordinate these efforts.
But it is important to acknowledge the more immediate contributions to the conservation of wildlife already being made by the global zoo and aquarium community: hundreds of species are being managed as part of a continuum of care within our institutions, and a consequential financial commitment to in-country field projects and programmes is developing. Today, the WAZA community contributes over US$350 million each year to this work, equal to or exceeding the contributions of many non-governmental conservation organisations that are not engaged in the complex and expensive activities of operating public facilities and caring for living animal populations. There is a strong movement to significantly increase this already impressive commitment, in order to meet the growing conservation imperative. WAZA is assisting this, by developing tools to help zoos and aquariums prioritise their investments; increasing the visibility and recognition of these efforts through the WAZA "branding" process; and providing educational outreach resources to the community, notably through the promotion of the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011–2020.
You are invited to use – and contribute to – the information and resources represented on this site. WAZA welcomes your input and participation in our important work.