News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,

October 1, 2020


Chicago Zoological Society Receives Award for Its King Conservation Leadership Academy

Program Honored at Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Annual Conference

Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, recently received a Community Engagement Award for its prestigious King Conservation Leadership Academy from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The award was presented during AZA’s annual conference, which was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In these unprecedented times, I am glad we could convene and honor the outstanding achievements of the distinguished leaders in our profession, including the Chicago Zoological Society for its King Conservation Leadership Academy,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of AZA. “Their contributions and mentorship have inspired all within the accredited zoo and aquarium community to advance AZA’s mission of creating a world where all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places.”

The King Conservation Leadership Academy is an informal STEM education initiative that elevates racially, culturally, and socio-economically diverse voices in conservation, and engages young children in nature, especially those in urban communities, who may not have access to quality science education. The Academy’s three Early Learner Programs cover preschool through middle school, serving nearly 3,200 individuals yearly, 90 percent of which are African American or Latinx. Another tier of the Academy is the King Conservation Science Scholars, which enrolls 300 teens from throughout the Chicagoland area, including 50 percent from minority populations. The program provides conservation knowledge with college and career readiness. Since March 2020, all King Academy programs have been offered online.

“The Chicago Zoological Society is passionate about empowering people from all walks of life to become conservation leaders,” said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Society. “Through our King Conservation Leadership Academy, we deliver innovative, age-appropriate, and culturally-relevant programming to children and families from under-resourced communities. As participants advance through our series of programs, they will develop a solid base of science knowledge and caring attitudes toward nature that will enable them to become champions of conservation.”

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About the Chicago Zoological Society

The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit

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, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 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. To learn more, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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