News & Media
Conservation Organization of the Year, presented by Arizona Game and Fish Department
The Phoenix Zoo is one of the nation's largest private non-profit zoological parks, and is visited by more than 1.5 million guests annually. The Zoo also boasts more than 42, 000 membership households. The Phoenix Zoo first opened its doors to the public in 1962. Though still comparatively young, the Zoo has already gained an international reputation for its efforts on behalf of wildlife. The Zoo participates in numerous local and international efforts on behalf of endangered species, including many Arizona natives: the Mexican wolf, thick-billed parrot, California condor, black-footed ferret, leopard frogs, gartersnakes, Sonoran mud turtles, razorback sucker, bonytail chub, desert pupfish, Gila topminnow, Kanab ambersnail, and Three Forks springsnail. The Phoenix Zoo's mission: To inspire people to live in ways that promote the well-being of the natural world.
2008 marks the 17th year that The Phoenix Zoo has participated in the recovery effort for the black-footed ferret. In that time, the zoo's breeding compound has hosted the birth of more than 360 kits – many of which were released into the wild.
Since 1994, the Phoenix Zoo has worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department, and other zoos to rebuild the Mexican gray wolf populations. In addition to breeding wolves for reintroduction, the Phoenix Zoo communicates to over one million visitors per year the importance of conserving such endangered species and their habitat.
The Phoenix Zoo has become an indispensable partner in the Department's efforts to "conserve, enhance, and restore Arizona's diverse wildlife resources." The Zoo's conservation programs have touched almost every taxonomic group under the Department's purview. Over the past decade, the Zoo has played a critical role in the survival of Ramsey Canyon leopard frogs and federally threatened Chiricahua leopard frogs, and has remained an integral part of conservation activities through captive propagation of hundreds of frogs for release into the wild. As an active member of the Gartersnake Conservation Working Group, the Zoo has begun testing new techniques for the captive maintenance and propagation of increasingly rare narrow-headed gartersnakes. In July 2008, the Zoo worked with the Department and federal partners to establish and maintain a captive refugia for the Three Forks springsnail, a rare aquatic mollusk found only in the White Mountains. Also, in a cooperative effort with the Zoo, Department staff have participated in efforts to reduce the numbers of non-native turtles from waters on the Zoo grounds.
Phoenix Zoo staff and volunteers have participated in development of scientific and conservation documents, donated their time towards habitat improvement projects, and participated in animal releases. In addition, the Zoo consistently works to bring citizen awareness to local and global conservation issues through interpretive presentations, media releases, educator resources, and behind-the-scenes tours of the Conservation Center. The Zoo has emerged at the forefront of zoo-based conservation through its captive propagation facilities, the hard work of its employees, and the creative use of its vibrant volunteer pool.