SEATTLE – Woodland Park Zoo has won top conservation awards from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the accrediting organization for more than 200 zoos and aquariums in North America. The awards were presented Wednesday at AZA’s annual conference in Phoenix.
The zoo won this year’s top honors in the North American Conservation Award category for its collaborative Oregon Spotted Frog Reintroduction Project, along with partners Oregon Zoo and Northwest Trek. Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo also earned the Significant Achievement Award for the Oregon Silverspot Captive Rearing Program.
The awards represent Woodland Park Zoo’s 14th national and international honors in conservation from AZA.
The Oregon Spotted Frog Reintroduction Project is a six-year collaborative effort among Woodland Park Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Northwest Trek and other conservation leaders in the Pacific Northwest. Populations of the native Oregon spotted frog have been decimated by 80 to 90 percent in Washington state. But Woodland Park Zoo and its partners joined to institute a recovery program to restore the endangered frog populations and get them back on their feet. The frogs are collected from wetlands as eggs and placed at the zoos for hatching and rearing for several months in a predator-free home as they transform from tadpole to full-fledged frog – giving them a head start until they are large enough to avoid predators that might prey upon them.
“Receiving the North American Conservation Award is a tremendous honor for us,” said Dr. Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO. “Woodland Park Zoo plays an active role in conservation in the Pacific Northwest, and we are committed to building a better future for wildlife. Our conservation efforts reflect our commitment to preserving the native species, habitats and biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest, and we continue to make conservation a top priority at the zoo.”
Woodland Park Zoo joined Oregon Zoo and other conservation leaders in a collaborative habitat restoration and reintroduction program to help increase the silverspot butterfly population in the Pacific Northwest. Program partners raise eggs in captivity until they become pupae and are ready to change to adult butterflies. They are then released into a protected area on the Oregon Coast in an ongoing effort to augment the population.
“The zoo’s role is even more critical than ever in tackling animal endangerment and habitat loss affecting us locally,” said Dr. Fred Koontz, Woodland Park Zoo Vice President of Field Conservation. “We believe it is our responsibility to educate our community about the issues and improve the living landscapes of our backyard.”
Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit www.zoo.org