ASLC to Lead Creation of Nationwide Wildlife Response Network: Unprecedented disaster preparedness effort to involve zoos and aquariums across the U.S.
October 31, 2016

Seward, Alaska (October 31, 2016)– The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is pleased to announce it has received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to create and sustain a nationwide network of animal care professionals to respond to oil spills and other disasters.

“We are honored to lead this unprecedented effort to create a vital national resource for wildlife response in the event of oil spills and other disasters,” said Tara Riemer, ASLC President and CEO. “By sharing the expertise and knowledge of the Alaska SeaLife Center with animal care professionals at AZA accredited zoos and aquariums, we will significantly enhance disaster preparedness across the United States. We are very grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for recognizing this need and supporting this ground-breaking effort.”

The Alaska SeaLife Center has nearly twenty years of experience in wildlife response. Under the three-year $455,119 grant, ASLC will work with the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center (WHC) of the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, to develop and deliver training courses, a mutual aid framework, and searchable database to facilitate rapid identification and deployment of appropriately trained specialists from the AZA community.

“Disasters do happen, and we have a responsibility to prepare as thoroughly as possible to support wildlife and the animals in our care,” said ASLC Operations Director Chip Arnold, the project director. “We look forward to collaborating with our AZA colleagues to ensure the nation’s most highly trained veterinary and wildlife care staff are prepared to respond to disasters where and when the need is greatest.”

Obstacles faced by animal care professionals in previous disasters will also be addressed, including provision of federally required Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, or HAZWOPER, certification, and training on the nationally recognized Incident Command System that manages responses to oil spills and other disasters. Updates and refresher certification programs for those previously trained will also be provided, and a train-the-trainer program will be implemented to broaden the network’s reach and support its sustainability.

In addition to supporting wildlife response, the trainings will support preservation of animal collections at zoos and aquariums in the event of natural disasters.

“Disaster preparedness is a priority for zoo and aquarium collections and wildlife,” said Steve Olson, Federal Relations, Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “Bringing the cutting edge expertise of the Alaska SeaLife Center to the AZA community is vitally important to our mission and the public.”


About ASLC: Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a 501(c)(3), non-profit research institution and public aquarium. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit  

About WHC: The mission of the WHC is to advance the health of wildlife in balance with people and the environment. Through our projects and programs, we focus on critical issues involving free-ranging and captive terrestrial and aquatic wild animals. As key components of the One Health Institute and the School of Veterinary Medicine, we provide broad-based service, training and research activities as they relate to wildlife health and conservation. To learn more, visit

About IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit

About AZA: The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. AZA represents more than 230 institutions in the United States and overseas, which collectively draw more than 183 million visitors every year. These institutions meet the highest standards in animal care and provide a fun, safe, and educational family experience. In addition, they dedicate millions of dollars to support scientific research, conservation, and education programs. To learn more visit

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