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Poll: Americans Believe Environmental Protections Rolled Back
- 04/13/2018

Two out of every five Americans recognize there have been recent government reductions toward wildlife conservation and environmental protections, according to a survey from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). More than 80 percent of those respondents are unhappy about the rollbacks. Although two-thirds of Americans have never acted to help stop reduced federal government support, eighty-seven percent are willing to help save animals from extinction.

"The American people understand that protections for endangered species and wildlife conservation programs are under attack, but are unsure how to help," said Dan Ashe, AZA president and CEO. "The recent loss of Sudan -- the last male Northern white rhino -- is a clear reminder that we are living in the midst of another mass extinction. The time to take action is now."

The AZA established AZA SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction, a program to work with AZA-accredited zoos, aquariums and animal conservation organizations, to save species through global, coordinated efforts. Zoos and aquariums play a dynamic role working to protect some of the world's most endangered species, sometimes even reintroducing endangered species back into the wild. In 2016, AZA-accredited facilities spent $216 million on field conservation alone, supporting more than 3,400 projects in 127 countries. To date, the AZA Conservation Grants Fund has provided almost $7 million to 375+ projects worldwide.

Key findings suggest:

- Americans willing to help save endangered species (87%) would donate $15, volunteer 8 hours and travel 300 miles each month. Younger Americans (18-34) are willing to do even more through donations and volunteer hours.

- Americans are most likely to agree donating to a wildlife conservation organization is most effective for helping save animals from extinction (39%), while fewer feel making their yard more animal-friendly (18%) or contacting an elected official (17%) is most effective.

- Younger Americans are more likely (59% vs. 35% of total Americans) to have acted to help stop the federal government from taking steps to reduce either environmental protections or wildlife conservation.

"Americans are willing to go to great lengths to help prevent extinction, and, with numerous state and federal rollbacks to wildlife and environmental protections being proposed, we need their voices more now than ever," said Ashe. "Contacting your elected officials and supporting AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums that are working tirelessly to save species are easy first steps to take today to help wildlife in need."

AZA offered these ideas on what actions people can take:

- Voice Your Concerns. Currently, several pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress that would reduce support for endangered species. Americans can raise their voices today against these efforts and others at aza.org/joinus.

- Visit a Zoo or Aquarium. Americans may be willing to travel 300 miles to help save endangered species, but they don't need to. Of the 6,000 species at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, approximately 1,000 are currently threatened or endangered, and most Americans on average live fewer than 40 miles from an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium.* A portion of admission at many AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums supports saving endangered species. Find a zoo or aquarium near you.

- Volunteer Your Time. Zoos and aquariums offer many unique opportunities to assist staff, educate guests and much more. Visit aza.org/joinus to find a volunteer opportunity near you.

- Make Your Yard Wildlife Friendly. Critical pollinators like monarch butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds are going extinct. You can do your part by making your backyard a haven for pollinators.

Additional research by AZA found that 90 percent of Americans agree zoos and aquariums have animal exhibits so that people can learn about animals they may never see in the wild. However, many visitors are not aware of the many other opportunities to support endangered species through AZA and AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. To help increase public engagement with AZA-accredited facilities, AZA recently launched a national public awareness effort, including a dynamic public service announcement.

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world.

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