New GRASP Partners Bring Zoo Expertise, Sustainable Business Perspective

19th May 2016 Featured, Home, Press Releases

The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) strengthened its commitment to the conservation work of accredited zoos and broke new ground with private companies through the addition of two new partners, following a vote by the GRASP Executive Committee.

GRASP granted partnership status to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which represents over 230 zoos in North America, and Nuubia Chocolates, an award-winning confectioner that uses only sustainable ingredients.

GRASP is now comprised of 104 partners, which include nations, research institutions, United Nations agencies, conservation organizations and private supporters, all committed to the protection of great apes and their habitat. Nearly 10 percent of the partnership is now zoos or zoo associations.

“GRASP’s goal is to add partners strategically, so we gain skills and expertise that not only support our work, but allow us to be more effective,” said GRASP programme coordinator Doug Cress. “Zoos have the ability to reach hundreds of millions of people each, and can change attitudes even as they inform and entertain.”

The AZA was established in 1924, and represents zoos in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The AZA currently directs over $160 million USD into conservation projects each year, and its newest campaign, Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE), include gorillas among the key species.

“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, its 233 members and its partners are all deeply committed to species conservation,” said Kris Vehrs, AZA interim president.  “This commitment is embodied in our cooperative effort ‘SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction.’ Great apes are one of our 10 SAFE Signature Species and conservation efforts to help them are one of our highest priorities. We are proud to partner with GRASP to further our collective efforts to bring resources and raise awareness of the plight great apes face in the wild, and work on saving this species from extinction.”

AZA now joins the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) in GRASP, and collectively they represent over 800 individual zoos worldwide.

The addition of Nuubia Chocolates is an important step forward as GRASP seeks to grow the group pf private companies committed to great ape conservation. Founded in San Francisco in 2010, Nuubia Chocolates does not use palm oil – thereby earning the label “orangutan friendly” – and is certified by another GRASP partner, the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network.

“The addition of Nuubia Chocolates to GRASP is a major step forward,” Cress said. “We are focused on growing the group of private companies committed to great ape conservation, and Nuubia Chocolates is a wonderful example.”

GRASP partners play important roles in helping determine the partnership’s priorities, programme of work, and political engagement.