AASAG & AZA Position Statements

The mission of the Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group (AASAG) is to develop cooperative relationships between the education, research, and animal welfare interests of the zoo and aquarium community around the topic of ambassador animals (a.k.a. program animals).

The primary functions of the AASAG are:

  • To emphasize the importance of ambassador animals in zoo/aquarium education.
  • To support professional standards in the management and handling of ambassador animals.
  • To provide a forum for those involved in ambassador animal research to share their findings.
  • To establish a resource for new AZA members to get information about ambassador animals.
  • To ensure that the topic of ambassador animals is continually addressed at AZA meetings.

To read more, visit: www.aza.org/ambassador-animals

Conservation Education Committee Position Statement on Ambassador Animals

The AZA Conservation Education Committee (CEC) supports the appropriate use of ambassador animals as an important and powerful educational tool that provides a variety of benefits to zoo and aquarium educators seeking to convey cognitive and affective (emotional) messages about conservation and wildlife.

The use of Ambassador Animals is supported and justified through research that shows their use enhances visitor experiences and learning through, or results in:

  • Audience Engagement
  • Knowledge Acquisition
  • Enhanced Environmental Attitudes

To read more about on this position visit: https://www.aza.org/cec-ambassador-animal-position-statement

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DEVELOPING AN INSTITUTIONAL AMBASSADOR ANIMAL POLICY

Membership in AZA requires that an institution meet the AZA Accreditation Standards collectively developed by our professional colleagues. Standards guide all aspects of an institution’s operations; however, the accreditation commission has asserted that ensuring that member institutions demonstrate the highest standards of animal care is a top priority. Another fundamental AZA criterion for membership is that education be affirmed as core to an institution’s mission. All accredited public institutions are expected to develop a written education plan and to regularly evaluate program effectiveness.

The inclusion of animals (native, exotic and domestic) in educational presentations, when done correctly, is a powerful tool. CEC’s Ambassador Animal Position Statement describes the research underpinning the appropriate use of program animals as an important and powerful educational tool that provides a variety of benefits to zoo and aquarium educators seeking to convey cognitive and affective messages about conservation and wildlife.

To read more on policy development and philosophy, visit: https://www.aza.org/recommendations-for-developing-an-institutional-ambassador-animal-policy

To see example policies, visit: Example Policies & Guidelines, Acquisitions, and more

AZA White Papers

Possession of Non-Human Primates This white paper addresses why nonhuman primates do not make suitable pets and should not be kept in personal possession situations, highlighting the conservation implications, animal health and welfare risks, public health and safety risks, and the challenges for AZA organizations asked to care for confiscated or abandoned nonhuman primates. 

The AZA position states: “The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognizes that personal possession of non-human primates has significant negative implications for animal welfare and health as well as public health and safety; therefore, in accordance with AZA’s Board-approved Policy on the Presentation of Animals, AZA does not support personal possession of non-human primates and encourages AZA member organizations not to participate in animal acquisition and transfer activities that may facilitate the personal possession of non-human primates.”