Conservation through Zoos and Aquariums

The world zoo and aquarium community has the largest potential conservation network globally. WAZA defines the responsibilities of the world's zoos and aquariums in regard to the conservation of global biodiversity (see conservation strategies). It sets the conditions that individual zoos and aquariums should satisfy in order to realise their full conservation potential. WAZA facilitates evidence-based conservation, supports integrated species conservation, conducts horizon scans, maintains a Resource Centre for conservation and sustainability information and promotes the use of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


WAZA is a founding member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and an association member of Species360 (formerly the International Species Information System). WAZA has Memoranda of Understanding with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as well as IUCN, Wild Welfare, the Alliance for Zero Extinction, the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History of the International Council of Museums, TRAFFIC, the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and the International Zoo Educators Association. WAZA is a partner of the Great Apes Survival Partnership.


WAZA has observer status at the Conference of the Parties to CITES and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. WAZA has a seat on the Live Animals and Perishables Board Advisory Panel of the International Air Transport Association. WAZA provides support to the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), the IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


Ex situ conservation

Under the auspices of WAZA, and in collaboration with Species360 (formerly the International Species Information System) and the Zoological Society of London, 130 active international studbooks are currently kept, which include 159 species or sub-species. More than 1,000 species or sub-species are managed under cooperative conservation breeding programmes at the level of the regional association members. At an inter-regional level, Global Species Management Plans are being established under the auspices of WAZA. In addition, WAZA supports science and research, promotes environmental education, motivates environmental sustainability, combats climate change, advocates for exemplary zoo and aquarium design, encourages animal welfare and participates in international campaigns.


In situ conservation

Preserving individual species in human care is not enough to protect global biodiversity. Conservation of intact ecosystems is the only chance for the survival of our planet's wildlife. A steadily increasing number of zoos and aquariums have recognised that the real challenge of biodiversity conservation is saving wild species and habitats (see WAZA conservation projects). It is the aim of WAZA to further increase the number of zoos and aquariums involved in the conservation of wild species and habitats and to make zoological institutions the primary non-governmental field conservation organisations. 

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  • Conservation through Zoos and Aquariums

    Conservation through Zoos and Aquariums

    (1) - (3) © Nicole Gusset-Burgener