Conservation Influencers

Association of Zoos and Aquariums


Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is an independent accrediting organization for the world’s zoos and aquariums. Its rigorous standards are dedicated to supporting research and conservation of, and education about, in situ and ex situ populations of animal species. In 2020 just 217 zoos and aquariums in the USA met AZA’s standards for accreditation, out of the 2,800 wildlife exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act. Outside of the USA, a further 23 zoos and aquariums are accredited.

At CITES’ CoP-18, AZA executive vice president Craig Hoover criticized NGO campaigners and Parties for arguing that ‘adding more species to CITES’ appendices is something to celebrate’. Hoover also observed that at CoP-18, anti-zoo sentiment was stronger than at any of the previous eight CoPs that he had attended. 

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums did not take a position on the listing of giraffes in Appendix II at CITES’ CoP-18. However Hoover commented that while the giraffe population is declining ‘it appears to be driven by poaching rather than international trade’. (Note: IWMC maintains that an unnecessary appendix II listing mostly makes poaching more prevalent and profitable). Responding to that CoP’s decision to limit the exceptions for the export of live elephants from Botswana and Zimbabwe to countries outside Africa, Hoover said that this sets a ‘terrible precedent for applying restrictions on the movement of Appendix-II animals to other species’. AZA also expressed concerns about how CITES’ CoPs tend to focus on charismatic or high-profile animals to the detriment of ‘lesser-known species such as songbirds’. 


Dan Ashe, President and CEO, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, former director of USFWS. Craig Hoover, Executive Vice President, former chief of the USFWS Division of International Conservation.


Board of Directors, chaired by Bert Castro, President / CEO
Phoenix Zoo, Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (note: Chair-elect is Brian Davis, Ph.D., President and CEO Georgia Aquarium).


According to its 2019 annual report, AZA had revenues of USD12,337,959 in 2019 and expenditure of USD10,729,093.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.


Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.