The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission met virtually this week to complete its Fall 2022 cycle of reviewing accreditation applications for AZA accreditation.
The AZA accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site, multiple-day inspection by an independent team of expert zoological professionals. The inspecting team analyzes all aspects of the facility’s operation, including animal welfare and wellbeing; veterinary care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; financial stability; risk management; governance; and guest services. Detailed reports from the inspection team and the facility are then thoroughly evaluated by the Commission. Finally, the Accreditation Commission interviews top officials at a formal hearing, after which accreditation is fully granted, provisionally granted for one year, or denied.
Of the accreditation applications reviewed during the virtual hearings, all six were previously accredited facilities.
The approved applicants for AZA accreditation during the virtual hearings include:
- Alaska SeaLife Center
- Elmwood Park Zoo
- Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
- Lincoln Children’s Zoo
- Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Each facility underwent a thorough review to make sure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which emphasize animal wellbeing, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires facilities to complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years as a condition of Association membership.
“As a testament to the value of AZA accreditation, our Commission could not get through the sheer number of applications during three days of hearings at our recent Annual Conference in Baltimore. So, we had to extend the process virtually,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “In addition to our 238 accredited members, our Pathway Toward Membership program currently has more than two dozen facilities working toward AZA accreditation, all of whom are doing so because they recognize AZA accreditation as the pinnacle for any zoological facility. Our rigorous standards are backed by science, constantly evolving, and rooted in animal wellbeing, which assures the public the animals at AZA-accredited facilities are receiving the best care possible.”
There are currently 238 AZA-accredited facilities and 15 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and 12 other countries.