More than $1.6 million is being distributed to zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and other facilities across the nation, including three on the North Carolina coast, in the first tranche from the federal Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program.
The program was included in the bipartisan, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March 2021.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or AZA, announced Monday the first wave of awards. In North Carolina, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City is to receive $100,703, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is awarded $123,672, and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores gets $59,850.
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress appropriated $30 million to reimburse expenses related to the care of captive species listed under the Endangered Species Act, as well as rescued and confiscated wildlife that are at risk of extinction, officials said.
“The Service is pleased to work with longtime partner AZA to reimburse plant and animal care facilities in this first distribution of critical American Rescue Plan funding,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said in a statement. “We are confident these funds will be used effectively to continue these institutions’ high-quality efforts to protect the nation’s imperiled species.”
Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said that as applications were reviewed, it was clear that despite the pandemic, zoos, aquariums and other facilities continued to provide extraordinary care for federally protected species and a critically important service to the agencies dedicated to endangered species recovery.
“That is why we are so grateful to partner with the Service to direct this funding to provide some relief to facilities who need it,” he said.
Other facilities selected include the following:
- Alaska Sea Life in Alaska, $188,229.
- ACNC Phoenix Zoo in Arizona, $196,530.
- Aquarium of the Pacific, $50,855, and Birch Aquarium, $110,190, both in California.
- Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado, $1,738.
- Sea Research Foundation, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, $44,642.
- The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Florida, $88,718.
- Chehaw Park & Zoo, $2,965, and Georgia Aquarium, $97,811, both in Georgia.
- Hutchinson Zoo in Kansas $18,811.
- Alexandria Zoological Park in Louisiana, $42,316.
- Friends of the Zoo Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, $158,760.
- New York Marine Rescue Center, $68,506.
- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, $20,206, and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, $142,296, both in Ohio.
- National Aviary in Pennsylvania, $87,141.
- Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas, $12,605.
- Mill Mountain Zoo in Virginia, $15,487.
The money can be used for food, veterinary care, direct animal/plant care staff time, life-support systems, transport for medical, reintroduction into the wild, and captive breeding purposes, real property debt and holding space improvements/modifications, and lastly utilities such as electricity or natural gas to power the facilities.
Zoos, aquariums and other facilities work alongside the federal government to support recovery programs, rehabilitate injured animals, care for confiscated wildlife and help save endangered species from extinction.