The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Saving Animals From Extinction (AZA SAFE) program focuses the collective expertise within our 230 accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages the massive zoo- and aquarium-going audiences to save species. At the same time, SAFE builds capacity to increase direct conservation spending, as well as AZA members’ impact on saving species through work in the field, in our zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement.

Every year, workshops on topics from membership, conservation, volunteering and marketing are given at the Annual AZA Conference. SAFE Conservation Action Plans have been developed for the African penguin, cheetah, western pond turtle, sharks, and vaquita. These plans include 36 critically important conservation projects with more to come. Some are already underway in the field.

More than 30 species, including the American bison and California condor, have been brought back from the brink of extinction because of the work of accredited zoos & aquariums, just like the Virginia Zoo.

With a combined 183 million annual visitors to our institutions, SAFE can be the platform to help and allow us tell our most compelling success stories to an even broader audience. In 2015, the AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium community identified 10 SAFE Signature Species on which to focus planning and conservation action, as well as a plan to include conservation programs at zoos and aquariums under the SAFE umbrella.

The Virginia Zoo is committed to expanding involvement at all levels for a program that is truly member-driven and we invite and listen to your feedback. In turn, visitors and the general public will have tangible, concrete and measurable actions to help save the Signature Species and advance member conservation priorities.

The Virginia Zoo is a member of the Founders Circle of SAFE donors, a group of AZA member zoos and aquariums with the visionary leadership to support program infrastructure and the planning, science, and staffing that will ensure the future of this movement. You can learn more about the program at