What is SAFE?

By Julie Javorka, Education Intern
Potter Park Zoological Society

What is SAFE? It stands for Saving Animals from Extinction and is an initiative of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – the organization that ensures member zoos and aquariums operate at the highest of standards and work collaboratively on conservation efforts. Potter Park Zoo is an AZA accredited zoo. 

SAFE uses knowledge from all AZA institutions and takes advantage of the large number of people all of these facilities reach. Did you know more people come to AZA institutions each year than all major sporting events combined? With 233 AZA institutions, there are more wildlife care experts, animals and chances to involve the public than in any other association.

AZA zoos and aquariums are home to: 

  • 750,000 animals
  • 6,000 species and
  • 1000 endangered species.


SAFE aims to raise more money for conservation efforts and to have institutions have a greater impact on saving species with work in the field and in accredited zoos and aquariums, as well as getting the public involved. In the past, particular species have been saved only by the efforts of AZA zoos and aquariums and their partners. 

SAFE aims to:

  • Discover threats facing endangered species
  • Create action plans
  • Gather new resources and 
  • Involve the public. 


Through the efforts of AZA institutions, visitors, and partners and donors, one of the goals of SAFE is to get the public more engaged in conservation and create more public awareness about existing conservation work and how AZA zoos and aquariums are involved. 

In 2015, 10 SAFE signature species were chosen in order to focus efforts. The black rhino is one of these species. You can visit our two black rhinos, Doppsee and Phineas, at Potter Park Zoo.

What can you do to support SAFE?

Individuals can become involved in the efforts of SAFE by supporting corporate sponsors such as Stonyfield Organics, Alex and Ani, and Seroogy's chocolates or by downloading the app Tails Up! that helps kids and their families engage with nature. In-app purchases from Tails Up! support AZA SAFE. Learn more at https://www.aza.org/safe-corporate-partnerships.