Memphis Zoo Wins Major Award for International Conservation
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Memphis Zoo Wins Major Award for International Conservation

Silver Spring, Maryland (9.21.12) – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that the Memphis Zoo has been awarded Top Honors for the 2012 AZA International Conservation Award for its Scientific Approaches to Conservation of Giant Pandas and Their Habitat program.

“The Memphis Zoo is a proven leader in international wildlife conservation,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “While all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums make conservation a top priority, this award brings well-deserved recognition to the Memphis Zoo for making a positive impact on the future of this species.”

This annual International Conservation Award recognizes the Memphis Zoo, along with its conservation partners at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Zoo Atlanta, and San Diego Zoo Global, for exceptional efforts toward Giant Panda regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild.

“The Memphis Zoo is now in its ninth year of the giant panda program, and along with its partner institutions have made significant contributions to the conservation of this species in the wild and captivity. The truly amazing work that the four giant panda holding institutions have been able to accomplish together really highlights how a multi-institutional group within AZA can combine their talents and make a difference for the long-term management of an endangered species,” said Memphis Zoo President, Dr. Chuck Brady. “Now that the captive population is secure and growing, there is a real sense of hope that giant panda populations might recover in the wild if a successful reintroduction program can be established. Decades of field work by the four U.S. Zoos studying giant panda ecology, training staff and habitat restoration efforts have truly laid the ground work for one of the greatest conservation success stories, not only helping to save the panda but a suite of flora and fauna that benefit from its protection in the wild.”

The Memphis Zoo initiated the most recent long-term giant panda loan in 2003. Memphis Zoo partnerships have been primarily with the Beijing Zoo, Shanghai Zoo, Chinese Academy of Sciences and China’s State Forestry Administration. Memphis Zoo scientists along with its partners in the U.S. Forest Service, helped create the Sino-U.S. Forest Health Program for long-term monitoring of the countries forests and biodiversity, including giant panda reserves. Key components of this program included: forest restoration; bamboo restoration; social economic programs to include local populations in protecting forests; implementation of projects to reduce timber harvesting from giant panda nature reserves (e.g. Biogas stoves); forest corridors; capacity building and training in the U.S. of Chinese foresters; and implementation of ecological monitoring tools for forest health.

Since 2003, the Zoo has trained more than 100 Chinese foresters in the U.S. on how to manage and conserve forest biodiversity. In addition to the Forest Health Program, Memphis Zoo scientists have focused much of their in-situ work on studying the foraging ecology of the giant panda and the species relationship to its food source, bamboo. Most of their field work began in 2005 in the Foping Nature Reserve working closely with Dr. Wei Fuwen, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  Other field programs include work on developing innovative new technologies for remote sensing of giant panda populations and demographics.

Ex-situ programs are focused on nutritional ecology, reproduction, chemical communication, and physiology, leading to numerous publications and graduate student degrees conferred.

About the Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tenn., is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Recently named as one of the top five zoos in the country by TripAdvisor®, the Memphis Zoo has completed over $93 million in renovation and expansion since the early 1990s. The Zoo's animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibitry, such as Once Upon A Farm, Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage, Teton Trek and CHINA - home to giant pandas YaYa and Le Le. The Zoo was founded in 1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. The Memphis Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Memphis Zoo, YaYa and Le Le are trademarks of the Memphis Zoo.

About the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA 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 global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit


Posted by Zoo Info at 1:53 PM