The Zoological Society of New Jersey and Essex County Turtle Back Zoo participate in three global conservation initiatives: conservation project funding, Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program, and Species Survival Plan (SSP) program. In 2016, AZA-accredited facilities contributed over $200 million to conservation initiatives; Turtle Back Zoo’s nearly $200,000 share is contributed by the Zoological Society of New Jersey, the non-profit arm of Turtle Back Zoo.
The SAFE program (https://www.aza.org/aza-safe) is a global conservation program sponsored by AZA, and is instrumental in developing immediate conservation strategies that increase the survival of several critically endangered species, including the African Penguin (a Turtle Back Zoo ambassador animal).
AZA “Species Survival Plans” (SSPs) are specialized breeding programs that create compatible animal pairs based on genetic and behavioral characteristics. Creating compatible breeding pairs is painstaking, but SSPs ensure that zoos need not remove animals from their wild environments. Eventually, AZA breeding programs may become solely responsible for the survival and management of critically endangered species and species that have been extirpated from the wild due to population or habitat collapse.