The Collective Impact of America's Zoos and Aquariums

Each day millions of visitors enjoy a trip to a local zoo and/or aquarium. While they know the benefits of their particular institution, these visitors may not know their hometown zoo or aquarium is part of a powerful, caring industry with enormous collective impact.

  • Zoos and aquariums draw 134 million visitors each year-more attendance than the NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball combined
  • Two million households in America-some five million people-are zoo or aquarium members, providing over $96 million in support
  • Annually, almost 58,000 volunteers invest over three million hours of their time, supporting virtually every aspect of zoo and aquarium operations
  • With their incomparable commitment to conservation education, zoos and aquariums teach more than 12 million people each year and dedicate $52 million annually to education programs
  • More than nine million students enjoy on-site education programs at zoos and aquariums each year-over three-and-a-half million receive them free of charge. Annually, almost 85,000 teachers profit from training workshops, special membership opportunities, and effective teaching materials
  • Virtually every group imaginable is reached through zoo and aquarium education efforts. Nine million people take advantage of on-site programs for families, seniors, preschoolers, and countless others
  • The public trusts the conservation message of zoos and aquariums. In a recent poll, the public ranked zoos and aquariums among the most powerful and trusted sources on environmental issues
  • Zoos and aquariums are dedicated to the highest standards of animal care. On a given day, more than 800,000 animals are cared for, many of which are the last representatives of endangered species
  • Many endangered and threatened species survive because of zoos and aquariums. The AZA's Species Survival Plan (SSP) provides many species with an insurance policy against extinction
  • Zoos & Aquariums take conservation action all over the world. Zoos and aquariums support nearly 700 field conservation and research projects in 80 countries
  • Zoos and aquariums invest $51 million in scientific research each year, and since 1990, zoo and aquarium scientists have collaborated for more than 4,000 published articles
  • Zoos and aquariums are powerful tourism generators for their communities. They enhance their local economies each year by attracting 134 million visitors, employing 32,400 workers, investing over $1.3 million in operating budgets and spending $194 million on outside services
  • Zoos and aquariums employ more than 32, 400 people nationwide, and create over twice as many jobs in their communities-from vendors they hire to employees hired by hotels, restaurants, and stores that serve their visitors
  • Economically, zoos and aquariums earn their own way. Of every dollar they receive, 79 cents comes from earned revenue and donations and only 21 cents comes from public funding
  • Zoos and aquariums invest public monies wisely. While they receive only $278 million in public funding, they earn and return over $1.3 billion in operations that benefit visitors and wildlife

Source: Association of Zoos & Aquariums