Asheboro, NC –The North Carolina Zoo is pleased to announce it received an award and two grants through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) at is its annual conference in September. 


The AZA awarded the North Carolina Zoo the prestigious 2020 William G. Conway International Conservation Award of Significant Achievement for the Southern Tanzania Vulture Monitoring and Conservation Project; this project is coordinated by the Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York. The William G. Conway Award recognizes exceptional efforts toward habitat preservation, species restoration, and biodiversity support in the wild.  


The Southern Tanzania project for the conservation of African vultures is led by Curator of Conservation and Research Dr. Corinne Kendall for the North Carolina Zoo. In addition, this project was awarded an AZA Conservation Grant to continue its work in saving this critically endangered species. On-going efforts in Tanzania since 2014 have helped to reduce poisoning incidents, a major threat to vultures, and continuous monitoring of over 20 vultures tagged by the project help to provide real-time information that is used to address threats.


The AZA awarded the North Carolina Zoo another Conservation Grant for the Sulu Hornbill Conservation Program. The Zoo's Director of Animal Management & Welfare, Roger Sweeney, leads this newly created conservation project to save one of the world's rarest and most endangered bird species: the Sulu hornbill. The hornbill species is native to the Philippines with a wild population that likely numbers fewer than 40 animals. 


 "Our conservation programs are a great example of how the Zoo works both here in North Carolina and globally in saving species,” said North Carolina Zoo Director Pat Simmons. "I'm excited that AZA recognizes this through awards and grants that will enable our staff to continue their efforts." 


Established in 1984, the AZA Conservation Grant Fund is a competitive program that supports AZA members and their partners' initiatives. After a competitive review of 70 applications, only 13 projects were chosen for funding in 2020, two of them for the North Carolina Zoo.  


"Despite a global pandemic and declining revenues, AZA-accredited facilities continue to work tirelessly on conservation projects around the world," said President and CEO of AZA Dan Ashe. "There is no doubt AZA members remain focused on making this a better world for people and wildlife."



About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world's largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,800 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature's diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature's diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.


About the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational, and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries, and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development. 


NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums, and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, N.C. Arts Council, African American Heritage Commission, State Historic Preservation Office, and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919-814-6800 or visit