|AZA 2008 YEAR OF THE FROG|
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Board of Directors recently voted to
designate 2008 as the Year of the Frog and to empower key AZA committees to make this
initiative as successful as possible. Further, the Board resolution calls for cooperation with
Amphibian Ark, WAZA, and other regional associations to ensure that this is truly a global
AZA's National Awareness Committee, under the chairmanship of Jackie Ogden, has
already convened a Year of the Frog Task Force comprised of representatives from the
Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group, the Conservation Education Committee, the Marketing
Committee, the Public Relations Committee and AZA staff. The following overview is
outlined below so that you can better plan your Year of the Frog participation.
Objectives and Strategies
Our goals are clear:
To provide you with tools to effectively address the amphibian conservation crisis,
including conservation and best practices information and increased resources to build
your amphibian programs.
To deliver value to you, our members, in the form of positive visibility, increased
attendance and greater resources.
AZA's Year of the Frog campaign is broken out into four strategic initiatives. We will
1. Conservation Resources: To assist AZA members in every aspect of amphibian
2. Best Practices Resources: To assist AZA members in developing captive assurance
3. Grassroots Outreach: To build a grassroots movement to institutionalize government
4. Public Engagement: To energize the public to support amphibian conservation.
The first step is to determine which amphibian species can most benefit from our unique
resources and expertise. To that end, AZA's Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group's (ATAG)
steering committee members, select amphibian experts, government representatives, and
AZA's conservation biologist will convene for an amphibian species prioritization meeting
July 30-August 1, 2007 at the Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas. This initial meeting will
focus on conservation prioritization for North American species.
The outcome of this three-day meeting will be a comprehensive species priority list that
will be used to plan, coordinate, and implement amphibian conservation efforts
throughout the AZA community. A second outcome will be newly trained facilitators ready
to conduct similar species prioritization meetings around the globe. Amphibian Ark staff
will be attending our meeting for this purpose.
The best practices effort will focus on providing practical guidance and information to
expand amphibian conservation programs. The AZA staff and ATAG are developing a best
practices manual that will build on the hard work of many scientists and partners. This
document will make it easier to implement a conservation program for the key Western
Hemisphere species identified as priorities for AZA institutions.
AZA is working to develop a more aggressive government relations agenda on all fronts,
and the pursuit of federal and state policies and funding to help critically endangered
North American amphibians is high on our list. Critical to this effort will be citizens,
including zoo and aquarium visitors, who are looking for a way to get involved in the
public policy process.
To meet this challenge, AZA will build a Web-based grassroots network of citizen
"Amphibian Advocates". After people sign up on the AZA site, we will provide them with
ongoing information about our campaign and how they can communicate with lawmakers.
The Year of the Frog public education campaign will have three key elements:
1. Give AZA members the tools to engage 150 million visitors
2. Generate public support for AZA member conservation projects
3. Highlight the significant work of AZA institutions to the media
The Conservation Education Committee (CEC) is already hard at work gathering, evaluating
and creating materials for your use. Year of the Frog education materials will support your
zoo and aquarium educators and event organizers as they conduct teacher workshops,
on-site education programs, and special events. These materials, which will be tied in to
the global campaign, will be free to all AZA members and can be used year-round.
Once the public learns about the amphibian conservation crisis, we want to inspire
personal action to help solve the problem. These actions include supporting their local zoo
or aquarium, engaging in neighborhood and backyard conservation projects, or making a
Reaching the News Media
One critical area for our partnership with Amphibian Ark, WAZA, and other regions will be
a coordinated effort to use the news media to reach the public. The power of a global
outreach campaign is clear and the good news is that a number of zoos and aquariums are
doing much for amphibian conservation.
We are organizing Association-wide efforts to promote AZA's Year of the Frog, including:
An attention-getting celebration on 29 February 2008 (Leap Day!). This event will allow us
to provide a focal point for the media and corporate sponsors.
Special Year of the Frog activities in AZA's Party for the Planet Conservation Made Simple
A Year of the Frog themed CONNECT magazine and regular CONNECT updates.
A Public Service Announcement (PSA) to generate attention and support.
Robust Year of the Frog content on the AZA web site.
What can be done now
More information will be available in the August CONNECT and a major Year of the Frog
session is planned for the Annual Conference in Philadelphia. In the meantime, consider
taking the following steps now to support our collective effort:
We ask that you consider increasing your capacity to maintain captive assurance
populations of amphibians. AZA has hired a full time conservation biologist for
amphibians, Shelly Grow. She, the ATAG, and the entire AZA staff are prepared to assist
you with your conservation efforts.
Save The Dates
Please plan on hosting a special event at your institution on Leap Day (Friday 29 February
2008) to help us engage the public in the Year of the Frog. And please plan to hold a Party
for the Planet on or around 22 April 2008, so that AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums
can continue to take ownership of Earth Day.
This year, we already doubled the capacity of AZA's Amphibian Biology and Management
Course by offering the course twice. The 13-18 October 2007 course at the Toledo Zoo is
already full, but registration for the 12-18 April 2008 course opens in August.
Please visit for updates about the growing Year of the Frog effort and link your Web site to
The key to a successful AZA campaign will be communication. Please share your
amphibian conservation success stories, education activities and planned events so that
we can share them with your colleagues and incorporate them into the global Year of the
AZA is committed to making the 2008 Year of the Frog campaign a success. This is a
tremendous opportunity to join with our global partners in making an important difference
in amphibian conservation. As always, I look forward to talking with as many of you as
possible and to seeing you in Philadelphia.
President and CEO
2007 Annual Conference