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Smithsonian's National Zoo Receives National Award for Excellence in Marketing

Silver Spring, Maryland (September 28, 2015) - The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute received Top Honors in marketing for budgets under $175,000 for their Endangered Song Project.

"This award recognizes the creativity of the Communications staff at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in utilizing their resources and expertise to their highest potential to communicate to the public the unique experiences that only AZA-accredited institutions can offer," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. "Marketing campaigns like Endangered Song help people re-connect with nature by encouraging them to visit AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos, where opportunities to learn more about wildlife continue to be offered in new and impactful ways.

The AZA Marketing Award recognizes excellence in marketing campaigns developed and executed by its AZA member institutions. The campaign must utilize a marketing mix with a minimum of three communication channels, such as television, radio, print advertising, outdoor, internet, direct mail, etc.

The Endangered Song Project was an analog-meets-digital awareness campaign that called upon 400 participants to use their social media strength to spread the message that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

"As scientists explore new and innovative ways to conserve wildlife, so must we partner in new and unexpected ways to build awareness and inspire action," said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. "Our job is to save species. This initiative is a powerful way to share our ongoing commitment to Sumatran tigers and encourage others to help ensure a sustainable future for these animals."

The National Zoo partnered with Atlantic Records' indie rock band "Portugal. The Man" to distribute a previously unreleased song titled "Sumatran Tiger." The song was lathe-cut onto 400 custom polycarbonate records designed to degrade after a certain amount of plays. With no other copies in existence, the 400 participants were tasked with digitizing and sharing the song through their social channels with the hashtag #EndangeredSong. "Breeding" the song socially helped save it from extinction, thus raising awareness about the critically endangered Sumatran tigers and need for conservation efforts.

Created in collaboration with pro-bono services from DDB New York, an Omnicom Group, the campaign was supported through a dedicated website, The site also featured a real-time update of all the social conversations surrounding the project, more about the initiative and how people can help perpetuate the song.

The list of the 400 participants involved in the Endangered Song Project included a wide range of music artists, noted bloggers, wildlife conservationists and other social media influencers who were asked to share the song, spread the message and help ignite change.

With less than 400 left in the wild, Sumatran tigers are at risk of being the next subspecies of tiger to go extinct. Listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these majestic creatures are found in forests in Sumatra. The two major threats to Sumatran tigers are habitat loss and poaching. Deforestation increases the chances of tiger-human conflict.

The National Zoo's Sumatran tigers participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. The SSP makes breeding recommendations for tigers in accredited zoos to preserve their genetic diversity. Those tigers serve as an insurance population for the approximately 400 wild Sumatran tigers. The National Zoo has bolstered the Sumatran tiger population in human care to date with 15 cubs.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are leaders in science, conservation and sharing knowledge to save wildlife and habitats. The living collection includes more than 1,800 animals from 300 species. Headquartered in Front Royal, Va., SCBI facilitates and promotes veterinary and reproductive research as well as conservation ecology programs based at Front Royal, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. The National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex. To stay engaged with the National Zoo, visit,, and

Visit for more information about becoming involved in the project.

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit