The mission of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation (ACNC)/Phoenix Zoo’s Conservation and Science Department is to provide zoo-based support for conservation in the field. Through our native species conservation and research efforts based at the Phoenix Zoo and our grants programs, we proudly participate in and support meaningful field conservation projects throughout our region and across the globe.

Our Conservation & Science Grants Program has helped advance the conservation and research efforts of well over a hundred projects around the world. Starting in 2019, we will focus on supporting a larger number of invitation-only sustaining grants, as well as grants to ACNC staff to participate in conservation projects as skilled volunteers. We are proud of the support we have been able to provide to many conservation projects through our annual grants process, but we will no longer be soliciting or accepting proposals.

Sustaining Grant Recipients

Our sustaining grant recipients are doing amazing work to save species and engage local communities!
Here are their projects.

Toward a better understanding of orangutan adaptation to human-made landscapes

Understanding how orangutans can survive outside of protected forests is key to their long-term survival in Borneo since more than 70% of current wild populations are found outside of protected forests. With this project, HUTAN seeks to understand the relationship between orangutans and established oil palm plantations. This information will then be used to influence and improve land-use planning and industry practices to minimize as much as possible negative impacts of oil palm development on orangutan and biodiversity.

Orangutan mother and infant in the Kinabatangan floodplain of Sabah, Malaysia (photo: HUTAN)


The Phoenix Zoo has also supported HUTAN’s efforts to monitor Bornean elephants that also roam across oil palm plantations (photo: HUTAN)


Grevy’s Zebra Trust
Grevy’s Zebra Warrior Program: Supporting coexistence between the endangered Grevy’s zebra and pastoralists in Northern Kenya

Grevy’s zebra is an endangered species, with over 90% of the wild population found in Kenya. Laisamis is a priority area for its conservation. Here, the Grevy’s Zebra Trust works with local Warriors from the community to monitor and protect Grevy’s zebra.  Camels carry the Warriors’ supplies for patrolling in remote areas where they record wildlife sightings and use GPS cameras to verify their data. Results facilitate prioritized resource management to enhance Grevy’s zebra survival, direct engagement of the community, and informed conservation planning for the region.

A Grevy’s zebra, photographed by Grevy’s Zebra Warriors in Laisamis, northern Kenya (photo: Grevy’s Zebra Trust)


Grevy’s Zebra Warriors record zebra observations during patrol (photo: Grevy’s Zebra Trust)


Tiger Conservation Campaign
Saving Sumatran tigers by reducing tiger-human conflict

On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, critically endangered Sumatran tigers are increasingly attracted to areas near villages, where wild pigs thrive in degraded forests and agricultural areas. Here the tigers come into conflict with people, with profoundly negative consequences on both sides. This project, supported through the Tiger Conservation Campaign and conducted by WCS-Indonesia, works with villages along the edge of Sumatra’s massive Leuser landscape to reduce tiger-human conflict. This important work simultaneously saves wild Sumatran tigers and protects people and their livelihoods.

Camera trap photo of a Sumatran tiger


Tiger-proof livestock enclosures are constructed to help prevent tiger-human conflict. (photo: WCS-Indonesia)


Ruaha Carnivore Project
Resolving conflict through communication: using DVD shows to help reduce human-carnivore conflict around Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape is a vital global stronghold for threatened carnivores, particularly lions. However, the area has high rates of human-carnivore conflict and killing, as local people are often unaware of how best to prevent carnivore attacks and of the importance of conserving carnivores. The Ruaha Carnivore Project operates a number of programs aimed at reducing conflict and providing local people with benefits from the presence of carnivores.  The team runs mobile DVD nights across all local villages to provide education about wildlife conservation, reaching thousands of households and reinforcing best-practice livestock protection, thereby reducing attacks, conflict and killing.

Over 30,000 people have attended the project’s DVD nights (photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)


A lioness and cubs in Ruaha National Park (photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)


ProCAT Atelopus Project
Comprehensive conservation program for the critically endangered Atelopus varius in the Talamanca Mountains, Costa Rica

Once considered extinct, the critically endangered variable harlequin frog, Atelopus varius, was rediscovered in Costa Rica. ProCAT assessed the remnant population and its threats and concluded that the species needed an immediate recovery plan to avoid extinction. This project is implementing management and community-based conservation actions to address the main threats these frogs face and evaluating their success.

A variable harlequin frog, Atelopus varius


Taking a skin swab sample to test for the presence of chytrid fungus – a threat to amphibians.


Giant Armadillo Conservation Program/
Anteaters & Highways

  • Giant armadillos: A flagship species for biodiversity conservation
  • Why, when and how do giant anteaters cross roads? Understanding impacts and effects of roads on giant anteater populations

The Giant Armadillo Conservation Program and Anteaters & Highways Project focus on rare, little-studied animals in Brazil. The giant armadillo study seeks to understand the ecology and biology of this threatened species, as well as its function in the ecosystem. Research on giant anteaters aims to quantify the impacts of roads on anteater populations and evaluate their effects on the species’ behavior, population structure, and health. These studies will provide useful information for future management plans in the region.     

Collared giant anteater and baby (photo: Tim Tetzlaff)


Camera trap photo of a giant armadillo (photo: Giant Armadillo Conservation Program)


Health in Harmony
Restoring and protecting orangutan habitat in Gunung Palung National Park

Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo is home to a natural, breeding population of 2,500 orangutans. The species is gravely threatened by the loss of its lowland rainforest habitat. This project by Health in Harmony seeks to protect and reforest important wildlife corridors and provide healthcare, livelihoods training, and community conservation education.

Seedlings are collected as payment for healthcare and used for reforestation (photo: Stephanie Gee)


The ASRI Kids program provides health and environmental education for children living near orangutan habitat (photo: Chelsea Call)