Dive in! Get exclusive updates from us when you subscribe to Aquarium emails.


The Aquarium is partnering with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) on a new initiative: “Saving Animals From Extinction” (SAFE).


This comprehensive, long-term commitment combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA members and partners to protect animals for future generations. Over time, 100 species will be identified that not only have the most urgent needs in the wild, but these animals are viewed as species that can be helped the most by the experts and assets of zoos and aquariums.

Through SAFE, conservation action plans are being developed for individual species and groups of animals, like sharks, that are facing the same challenges. The Aquarium is part of this broad coalition, helping solve some of these issues while continuing to protect and restore the rich biodiversity in our backyard.

Our collaborative work with other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums includes leading AZA Species Survival Plans for critically endangered Southeast Asian turtles. Sharing expertise and managing the genetic diversity of these animals in human care helps ensure their existence if they become extinct in the wild.

NEW IN 2020

The Aquarium declared 2020 to be “The Year of the Turtle” in recognition of these reptiles’ beloved (often-revered) role in cultures around the world and the challenges many turtle species face in the wild. As part of this yearlong celebration, the Aquarium also announced its leadership of a new Association of Zoos and Aquariums Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program focused on safeguarding native turtles.

When it launched, the AZA SAFE American Turtles program encompassed 14 zoos and aquariums as well as 30 “field partners” representing state and federal agencies, nonprofits, nature centers, universities and more. The program’s initial focus was on protecting the Wood Turtle, Bog Turtle, Blanding’s Turtle and Spotted Turtle, as well as terrapenes (also known as “box turtles”).

© 2024 Tennessee Aquarium. All Rights Reserved. Made by Whiteboard in Chattanooga