Akron Zoo wins two national awards


The Akron Zoo has been nationally recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for excellence in marketing and excellence in diversity.

The Akron Zoo was awarded top honors for the Excellence in Marketing Award for its 2017 Curious Creatures campaign. The AZA Marketing Award recognizes 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 or other media.

The Akron Zoo’s Curious Creatures marketing campaign was designed to spark curiosity as it introduced guests to a variety of unique animals including naked mole rats, Venus fly traps, chameleons, leaf cutter ants, cuttlefish, mantis shrimp, electric eels and more. The campaign showcased this fun and educational exhibit that encourages exploration and discovery and brings guests nose-to-nose with strange and unusual creatures. The Curious Creatures campaign aided in the zoo achieving a new attendance record with over 416,000 guests enjoying a visit in 2017.

The Akron Zoo and the Birmingham Zoo received the Angela Peterson Excellence in Diversity Award for their significant achievement in establishing their Sensory Inclusive Zoo Initiative. The Birmingham Zoo and Akron Zoo were the first zoos in the U.S. to become sensory inclusive through partnership with KultureCity. Staff at both facilities were trained to understand sensory processing and how to best serve guests with sensory sensitivity. Resources are offered, such as sensory rooms, quiet areas, sensory bags including noise-reducing headphones and fidget toys and more.

By becoming certified sensory inclusive, both the Akron Zoo and Birmingham Zoo have increased accessibility for guests with sensory processing needs and have created an inclusive environment for all visitors on a daily basis.

“The Akron Zoo is honored to be recognized on a national level for both our Curious Creatures marketing campaign and our sensory inclusion initiative,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO at the Akron Zoo. 

“The Curious Creatures campaign exemplifies our mission by focusing the natural curiosity of kids and kids at heart on amazing species with unique abilities who share our planet,” said Piekarz. “Our Sensory Inclusion Initiative is very important because this program seeks to create understanding and support of the "one in five" people who struggle, often silently, every day with sensory sensitivities like autism, ADHD or PTSD. The Akron Zoo welcomes everyone. You are included here. And we’re proud to be honored alongside our friends at the Birmingham Zoo and KultureCity.”