SALT LAKE CITY — Beginning tomorrow, Utah’s Hogle Zoo will play host to over 2,000 wildlife experts and conservation specialists during the 2015 annual conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Sept. 18-21.
“When looking for a city to host the AZA annual conference, we knew Salt Lake City would be a great fit,” said Jim Maddy, AZA President and CEO. “The conference was last held in Salt Lake in 1971 and 287 people were in attendance. A lot has changed over the years, particularly at the renowned Utah’s Hogle Zoo and, this year, approximately 2,200 aquarium and zoo professionals are looking forward to experiencing the city’s beautiful surroundings, history, variety of offerings and close proximity to national parks.”
The conference will kick off Friday night at beautiful Library Square as AZA delegates eat, sip and mingle during the Ice Breaker – which, proudly, will be a zero-waste event for the first time in AZA history. “AZA organizations make significant contributions to conservation,” said Liz Larsen, conservation coordinator at Hogle Zoo. “Practicing zero-waste at this event is a great way for us to demonstrate our commitment to reducing our impact on our natural resources. Thank you to the city and our community partners for their help in making this possible.”
Two keynote speakers will address the delegates: Dr. M. Sanjayan (Sept. 19) a global conservation scientist, writer and Emmy-nominated news contributor, speaking on conservation improving human well-being. And OCEARCH Founding Chairman Chris Fischer (Sept. 20) an ocean explorer who’s led 22 global expeditions researching sharks.
Conservation will again be a highlighted topic at this year’s conference. AZA-accredited institutions are already investing $154 million in support of approximately 3,145 conservation initiatives in more than 130 countries.
In addition to conservation, there will be 80 program sessions covering numerous topics from the latest in exhibit design to innovations in education to advances in animal care. In addition, more than 140 companies that support the zoo and aquarium community will be featured in a lively exhibit hall.
“It is both an honor and an acknowledgement to be hosting this year’s AZA Annual Conference,” said Craig Dinsmore, Hogle Zoo executive director. “Zoo and Aquarium professionals from throughout the U.S. and abroad will be gathered here to share the latest advancement in conservation science, education and programs for stewardship of our planet and its amazing wildlife. We couldn’t be more proud!”
Fewer than 10% of the roughly 2,800 animal facilities in the country are accredited by the AZA. The stringent accreditation process means guests seeing an AZA logo on an animal institution, know they are supporting the ‘gold standard’ in animal care and welfare. Accredited facilities have been examined by a panel of experts and are recognized as having met AZA’s high standards and practices.