Silver Spring, MD – Dr. Rich Bergl, the North Carolina Zoo’s Curator of Conservation and Research, has been presented  with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) “Outstanding Service Award.” The award was presented during the organization’s recent annual conference in Kansas City, MO. 

According to AZA officials, Bergl was selected for the award after six years of extraordinary service on its Field Conservation Committee. Bergl helped organize a field conservation class for AZA’s Professional Development Program, helped gather data for AZA’s Annual Report on Conservation and Science (ARCS), served on AZA’s Conservation Assessment Taskforce and sat on the review panel for AZA’s Conservation Endowment Fund (CEF) grants. 

“Dr. Bergl is an extremely deserving recipient of this award,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “He is a valued conservation leader in the zoo and aquarium community,” 

“I am honored to receive this award from AZA and hope that my contributions have helped to benefit endangered wildlife around the world,” said Bergl.

Bergl has managed the N.C. Zoo’s Conservation and Research Programs since 2007. He began his career as a gorilla keeper at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo and later received a Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the City University of New York. He has conducted conservation research in Africa for more than 15 years, with particular focus on innovative approaches to study and monitor the critically endangered Cross River gorilla. Bergl’s research has used genetic data and geographic information systems technology (GIS) to assess population structure, habitat connectivity and population viability for the entire Cross River gorilla subspecies. Recently, he has partnered with both national governments and non-governmental organizations to develop a mobile computer-based monitoring system for use throughout the gorillas’ range. 

Bergl has worked in Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea (Bioko), Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya and has conducted genetic research as a Visiting Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Molecular Primatology Laboratory. He has also worked as a Conservation International Fellow, analyzing broad-scale biodiversity patterns and conservation practices in West Africa. He sits on the Executive Committee of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group Section on Great Apes and is a member of the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group. Bergl also serves on the conservation committees of the International Primatological Society, the American Society of Primatologists and is Conservation Advisor to AZA’s Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and Great Ape Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG). In 2011, he was appointed as a Fellow at the Wildlife Conservation Society of New York. 

Bergl is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Biological Anthropology at Duke University and at the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The North Carolina Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.

About AZA

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, education, science and recreation. The AZA logo is 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. AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit