It’s that time of year again, when word spreads throughout the halls of Capitol Hill that a cheetah, a kangaroo, or a penguin has been spotted somewhere in the House of Representatives office buildings. On May 9th, AZA will bring animal ambassadors to Congress for the annual AZA Capitol Hill Reception from 6:00-8:00PM in the Rayburn Cafeteria and Courtyard.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Philadelphia Zoo, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, and Salisbury Zoo will once again be bringing animals from their great institutions to the Hill to interact with legislators and staff.
While the reception is an amazing opportunity for members of the AZA community to get to know their legislators in a more relaxed setting, the Advocacy Day also has an important objective. As in previous years, attendees will be educating their representatives and senators about the important issues affecting AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and global wildlife, including:
- Joining the Congressional Zoo and Aquarium Caucus – The bipartisan caucus currently has 90 members and is co-chaired by Representatives Lipinski, Bachus, Capps, and Grimm.
- Support funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services – AZA is supporting $35 million in FY2013 for the Office of Museum Services, which awards grants to museums including accredited zoos and aquariums.
- Cosponsor H.R. 3510, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Reauthorization Act – This legislation benefits programs for conserving tigers, rhinos, elephants, great apes, and sea turtles.
- Support H.R. 2547 and S. 1372, the No Child Left Inside Act – This legislation provides incentives for states to create environmental literacy plans from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 which include environmental education standards and teacher training.
- Support Funding for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program – AZA is supporting an appropriation of $3.981 million in FY2013 for this important program which provides grants or cooperative agreements to eligible stranding network participants for activities related to stranded marine animals.
Attendees will also inform their legislators about programs at their own institutions, and put some perspective on the collective economic and education impacts of all 224 AZA institutions.
The Smithsonian National Zoo will also host an evening reception the night before Advocacy Day. This event is the traditional kick-off for the 2-day program, and it gives everyone an opportunity to learn more about the exciting exhibits at the National Zoo and gear up for the following day’s activities.
See what you can do to help your local zoo or aquarium by visiting AZA’s Legislative Education Center.
Vice President, Congressional Affairs