Is your zoo accredited?
While most people may not realize it, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) scrutinizes animal exhibits and zoos throughout the country and gives its approval rating to only the best.
Utah's Hogle Zoo once again has received accreditation from the AZA's Accreditation Commission at its annual conference in New Orleans last week.
Only 214 zoos and aquariums are AZA accredited. By comparison, more than 2,000 organizations are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"We are pleased to grant accreditation to Hogle Zoo," Sydney J. Butler, executive director of AZA, said in a press release.
"Zoos and aquariums in North America are continually evolving and reaffirming their commitment to animal care, professionalism, ethics, conservation and education. They, in turn, are enriching the lives of their community, and Hogle Zoo is no exception."
Craig Dinsmore, Hogle Zoo's executive director, was very excited about the accreditation.
"I'm delighted and very proud," he said.
Dinsmore stressed there's no "rubber stamp" to the accreditation process. It is done every five years and, although Hogle Zoo also earned the same honor in 1999, he said this time the zoo received more compliments and positive feedback.
"It says Hogle Zoo is pursuing excellence," he said.
A sampling of specific areas at Hogle Zoo cited by the AZA Accreditation Commission:
Excellent programs for safety and security.
Tremendous behavioral enrichment program; two keepers work 12 hours each week on coordinating enrichment.
Improvements to veterinary facilities, staff, and programs.
No non-compliance reports from the Department of Agriculture and an enthusiastic staff.
State-of-the-art front entrance with security, guest services, ticketing, group sales, gift shop, rental pavilion and rest rooms; new elephant/rhino exhibit under construction.
The AZA was founded in 1924. Its mission is to establish, uphold and raise the highest zoological and aquarium industry standards through self-evaluation, on-site inspection and peer review.
The application process takes approximately six months to complete and includes an initial application and on-site inspection by a team of zoo and aquarium professionals. The team observes all aspects of the facility's operation, including animal care, keeper training, safety, education and conservation efforts, veterinary practices, guest services, financial stability and visitor services.