The Association of Zoos & Aquariums Honors Disney for its Dedication to Animal Care

Recognizing Disney for its leadership in animal care and conservation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recently bestowed several prestigious honors and awards upon Disney Parks during its recent annual conference in Seattle.

First, the AZA appointed Dr. Mark Penning, vice president of Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, to its board of directors for a three-year term. Penning’s appointment marks the third time a Disney leader has been elected to serve on the AZA board; Dr. Jackie Ogden and Dr. Beth Stevens (both now retired from Disney) have served in the past.


“It is a real honor and privilege to be able to serve on the AZA board of directors,” said Dr. Mark. “The Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team strives to be a leader in the zoological profession, and with the AZA being so fundamentally important to our operations, we are proud to be able to play a significant role in shaping our profession in terms of animal care and saving wildlife.”

The AZA also recognized Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot with the William G. Conway International Conservation Award. The award applauds exceptional efforts in habitat preservation, species restoration and biodiversity in the wild and was given to Disney for its more than 20-year achievement in conservation efforts through the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF).


“As we continue to recognize the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we have great pride in the DCF and its success in saving wildlife, inspiring action and protecting the planet,” Dr. Mark said. “Through the fund and the talented Cast of the DCF and ASE, we have supported a diverse range of conservation projects around the world, protecting more than 400 species and habitats.”

The DCF was created ahead of the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom to advance Disney’s conservation commitment and support the core principles of the park: the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure and a call to action. Over the past 20 years, the DCF has provided $75 million to support projects spanning six continents, all five oceans and 120 countries around the world. DCF has also recognized 169 Disney Conservation Heroes inspiring their communities in 48 countries.

Lastly, Disney and its collaborators received two Significant Achievement awards from the AZA for their continued support of conservation projects helping save okapis and lowland tapirs in the wild.

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