Alexandria Zoological Park Earns Prestigious AZA Accreditation
The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) announced that Alexandria Zoological Park was once again granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission. Alexandria Zoo has been accredited by AZA since 1986 and, in 2015, was honored with the association’s Quarter Century Award, denoting over 25 years of continuous accreditation and long-time commitment to excellence.
"Only the very best zoos and aquariums can meet the 'gold standards' set for accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums," said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. "By achieving AZA-accreditation, Alexandria Zoo demonstrates that it is committed to exemplary animal care and welfare, educational and inspiring guest experiences, and AZA’s mission to conserve our world’s wild animals and wild places."
To be accredited, Alexandria Zoo underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.
The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation, including animal care and welfare; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and more. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.
"The Alexandria Zoo administration has always recognized the importance of AZA Accreditation," said Zoo Director Lee Ann Whitt. "For our Zoo to be the best it can be, it is essential to follow these strict AZA standards that ensure the best animal welfare, world conservation involvement, and premiere educational programming."
Fewer than 10 percent of animal exhibitors registered with USDA have achieved AZA accreditation. Just 232 zoos and aquariums are accredited by the AZA.
The AZA inspection team noted a number of achievements following their visit, including the Alexandria Zoo’s recent renovations of the Animal Health Center, which "provide exceptionally high quality facilities for the animal collection."
Alexandria Zoo was also commended for its increase in financial support for conservation efforts and the diversity of species in its care, which is a "reflection of their commitment to provide the community with exposure to a wide variety of wildlife, and enhancing an appreciation for the world's wildlife."
"Having maintained AZA accreditation since 1986 is a testament to the hard work, dedication and support of our staff, the City Administration and City Council, Friends of the Alexandria Zoo, volunteers, and our community as a whole," said Whitt. "I am truly grateful!"