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Conservation Award

SAN DIEGO, CA (Sept., 2016) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is proud to announce recognition for its contribution in rescuing and rehabilitation of gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA), the primary accrediting body for top zoos and aquariums in the United States since 1974, recently announced recipients for the Association’s International Conservation Award during its annual conference.

The award recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA member institutions toward habitat preservation, species restoration and support of biodiversity in the wild.

Along with eight sister institutions, Utah’s Hogle Zoo was recognized for its partnership with G.R.A.C.E – Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center.

GRACE is the world’s only sanctuary for Grauer’s gorillas, a highly endangered gorilla subspecies found in the war-torn Congo. Together with the help of AZA, GRACE’s mission is to rehabilitate gorillas rescued from poaching so they can return to the wild. They also work to educate the Congolese communities to promote understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild gorillas and their habitat.

“What they’re attempting at GRACE is the first of its kind,” said Liz Larsen, Director of Conservation, Hogle Zoo. “We’re taking orphaned gorillas and we are creating surrogate family groups in order to release them back into the wild. Our Zoo institutions are well positioned as conservation organizations with not only professional expertise but we’re able to pool our resources to provide direction and leadership and it’s been quite successful.”

GRACE notes ( that Zoos play a critical role in staff training. “In 2009, our staff had little or no experience with gorillas and, thanks to this major investment in training, are now among the most experiences gorilla care experts in Africa and arguably the world.” This support is financial as well as sending animal care staff, veterinarians and offering administrative oversight. Hogle Zoo is proud to have its own executive director, Craig Dinsmore, currently serving on the Board of Directors.

Photo credit: GRACE