Silver Spring, Maryland – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) today announced that the Red River Zoo has received Significant Achievement with a 2013 Edward H. Bean Award for its long-term propagation and management of red pandas.

“The AZA Bean Award acknowledges the Red River Zoo for its incredible leadership in conservation science,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “It is important to recognize the hard work that will help prevent red pandas and other imperiled species from going extinct.”

“The Red River Zoo is a perfect example of how even small zoos can make serious, significant, and real-world contributions to conservation,” said Red River Zoo Director Lisa Tate. “By taking our conservation mission seriously, we have been able to sharply focus on our red panda breeding program, making it highly successful and effective. The Red River Zoo’s ongoing contributions to red panda propagation, including importing much needed genetically diverse animals from China, illustrates our dedication to this species.”

The Edward H. Bean Award is a historic award within AZA, established in September 1956, honoring the first director of Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo and one of the founders of AZA. The Edward H. Bean Award recognizes propagation or management programs that contribute to the reproductive success of one or more species and/or subspecies.

The Red River Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which does not receive any tax based funding. As a result, the zoo’s financial resources are limited. However, despite these constraints, the Red River Zoo plays an important role in the conservation and propagation of the red panda styani subspecies.

In 1993, the Red River Zoological Society was formed with the mission of developing a zoological park dedicated to education and conservation of rare and endangered species – the Red River Zoo. In the spring of 1999, the Red River Zoo opened its doors and one year later celebrated the birth of its first Chinese red panda. In February 2007, at the request of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Red Panda Species Survival Plan® (SSP), the zoo imported a male and female red panda from Japan to assist in increasing the genetic diversity of the North American population. This was at a cost of $40,000, which is a large expenditure for a zoo of this size. This illustrates the zoo’s dedication and ongoing commitment to the conservation and propagation of this subspecies. Since 2000, the Red River Zoo has celebrated 12 more successful births, and the zoo is responsible for the birth of one-fifth of the 61 red panda in North America.

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. Look for the AZA 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 global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more visit www.aza.org.

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