WAZA Awards

Please click on each category to expand the list of past award recipients.

Call for nomination usually starts in mid-May each year. 

About the Heini Hediger Award

In 1996, WAZA established its highest award for professional excellence, named the Heini Hediger Award in honour of the Swiss biologist known as the “father of zoo biology”.

Only one individual can be honoured in any given year, and since the award criteria are lofty, it is anticipated that the award might not be given out every year.

Past recipients of the Heini Hediger AwardYearWAZA Conference
Simon Tonge,
Executive Director Emeritus of Paignton Zoo, United Kingdom
2021Virtual conference
Jörg Junhold,
Director of Zoo Leipzig, Germany
2020Virtual conference
Kris Vehrs,
Former Executive Director of Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), USA
2019Argentina
Mark Reed,
Former Director of Sedgwick County Zoo, USA
2018Bangkok
Anna Croukamp,
Founder of Parque das Aves, Brazil
2017Berlin
Rick Barongi,
Former Director at Houston Zoo, USA
2016Puebla
Lena Linden,
Director at Nordens Ark, Sweden
2015Al Ain
Anne Marie Baker,
Former Director at Toledo Zoo, USA
2014 India
Miranda Stevenson,
Former Executive Director of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), UK
2013 USA
Alex Rübel,
Director of Zoo Zürich, Switzerland
2012 Melbourne
Gordon McGregor Reid,
Former President of WAZA
2011 Prague
Bert de Boer,
National Foundation for Research in Zoological Gardens
2010 Cologne
Karen Sausman,
Former Director of The Living Desert, USA 
2009 St.Louis
Peter Dollinger,
Former WAZA Executive Director
2008 Adelaide
Willie Labuschagne,
Former Director of National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, South Africa
2007 Budapest
Gunther Nogge,
Former Director of Cologne Zoo*, Germany
2006 Leipzig
Sally Walker,
Secretary and Founder of Zoo Outreach Organisation
2004 Taipei
Roger Wheater OBE FRSE FIBiol,
Former Director of Edinburgh Zoo, UK
2001 Perth
William Conway,
Former President of the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, USA
1999 Pretoria
Jeremy Mallinson OBE,
Former Director of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey, USA
1998 Nagoya
Ulysses Seal,
President Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of IUCN-SSC
1996 Denver
George Rabb,
Former President of Brookfield Zoo, USA
1996 Denver

About the WAZA Conservation Award

In 2016, WAZA established its highest award for institutional commitment towards conservation, named the WAZA Conservation Award.

This award is granted to an institution for an outstanding, comprehensive specific conservation programme that has clear objectives and excellent conservation outcomes.

Past recipients of the WAZA Conservation AwardYearWAZA Conference
Prague Zoo, Czech Republic2021Virtual conference
Georgia Aquarium, USA2020Virtual conference
Zoo Zürich, Switzerland2019Argentina
Taronga Zoo, Australia2018Bangkok
Monterey Bay Aquarium, USA2017Berlin
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, UK2016Puebla

About the WAZA Environmental Sustainability Award

In 2018, WAZA established its highest award for institutional commitment towards environmental sustainability, named the WAZA Environmental Sustainability Award.

This award is granted to an institution for outstanding, comprehensive environmental sustainability initiatives that advances its commitment and efforts towards environmental sustainability.

Past recipients of the WAZA Environmental Sustainability AwardYearWAZA Conference
North Carolina Zoo, USA2021Virtual conference
Detroit Zoological Society, USA2020Virtual conference
Taronga Zoo, Australia2019Argentina
Wellington Zoo, New Zealand2018Bangkok

2022 WAZA Awards Call for Nomination

The 2022 Heini Hediger Award, WAZA Conservation Award, and WAZA Environmental Sustainability Award are now open for nominations.

WAZA Voting Members (Association and Institution members) are invited to nominate candidates for the three awards. Self-nominations are permitted for the WAZA Conservation and WAZA Environmental Sustainability Awards, but are not permitted for the Heini Hediger Award.   

Nominators, seconders, and nominees must all be WAZA Members in good-standing. Candidates for the Heini Hediger Award must have worked or be currently working for a WAZA Institution or Association member. Past recipients of the awards cannot be nominated again for the same award.     

Please contact Janet Ho at membership@waza.org to obtain the nomination forms. Nominations must be submitted on or before 15 July 2022, 23:59 CEST (GMT+2), late submissions will not be accepted.     

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

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