Rolling Hills Zoo is among 24 facilities granted the most prestigious zoological accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium Accreditation Commission.
According to the AZA, the 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 well-being; 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 alike are then thoroughly evaluated by the Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed by the Accreditation Commission at a formal hearing, after which accreditation is fully granted, provisionally granted for one year, or denied.
Of the accreditation applications reviewed during the AZA Annual Conference, 24 were previously accredited facilities, and three were new applicants. There were also two applicants for certification who were also previously certified and one new applicant for certification. Later in September, seven facilities will have virtual accreditation hearings.
The approved applicants for AZA accreditation during the AZA Annual Conference include:
- Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum – [New Member]
- Birmingham Zoo
- Brandywine Zoo
- Buffalo Zoo
- Capron Park Zoo
- David Traylor Zoo of Emporia
- Detroit Zoo
- Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History
- Lake Superior Zoo
- Lee Richardson Zoo
- Little Rock Zoo
- Oregon Zoo
- Red River Zoo
- Rolling Hills Zoo
- Scovill Zoo
- SEA LIFE Aquarium at LEGOLAND California Resort
- SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium
- SeaWorld San Antonio
- Trevor Zoo
- Turtle Back Zoo
- Wildlife Safari
- The Wilds
- Wonders of Wildlife – [New Member]
The approved applicants for certification include:
- Duke University Lemur Center
- Endangered Wolf Center
- Rivendale Wildlife Sanctuary – [New Member]
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.
“The public expectations for animal care are constantly increasing, as are our own, which is why AZA’s accreditation standards are focused on providing the best animal care possible,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “Our rigorous accreditation standards evolve based on modern animal research, ensuring a process the public can trust. We applaud and admire these exceptional zoos, aquariums, and related facilities on meeting the ‘gold standard’ for a modern zoological facility.”
Reflecting the rigor of AZA’s standards and the independence of its accreditation process, the Commission denied accreditation to two facilities: African Safari Wildlife Park, located in Port Clinton, Ohio, and Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, located in Holderness, New Hampshire. As existing members, they have 30 days to appeal the Commission’s decision to the AZA board of directors’ Executive Committee. If an appeal is received, the Executive Committee has 45 days to decide if the full AZA board of directors should consider the appeal at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The AZA board can overturn or modify Commission decisions, although it is rare to do so. If the denial is upheld, both facilities will be eligible to apply for AZA accreditation again in September 2023, and the earliest they could regain accreditation would be March 2024.
There are currently 238 AZA-accredited facilities and 15 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and 12 other countries. For a complete list of accredited AZA facilities, please visit https://www.aza.org/current-accreditation-list.
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 12 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 www.aza.org.