Statement by Kris Vehrs, Executive Director, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Before the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

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Statement by Kris Vehrs, Executive Director, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Before the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

Jul 26, 2014

(As prepared for delivery)

       Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Madame Vice Chair and Park Board Commissioners.

·        I’m proud to be here today on behalf of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, AZA, to talk about the Vancouver Aquarium.

·        Founded in 1924, AZA is an international association with 224 accredited members, including zoos and aquariums in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Bermuda, Bahamas and Hong Kong.

·        Accreditation is required of all AZA member organizations, and confers best-in-class status. It signifies excellence in, and commitment to, the highest standards and policies for ethics, animal care and welfare, acquisition, veterinary care, wildlife conservation, scientific research, conservation education, expert staffing, financial stability, risk management, safety and professionalism.

·        Accreditation is a serious undertaking and commitment by an institution. Not every institution is able to meet our standards because they are tough.  The standards continuously evolve based on input from our professionals including animal scientists, nutritionists, veterinarians, educators and animal care specialists.

·        AZA expects that its accredited institutions will be leaders in the zoological field and the Vancouver Aquarium is indeed a leader– in particular in its cetacean, animal welfare and conservation and research programs.

·      Vancouver Aquarium is an exemplary AZA member. First accredited in 1975, the organization was last accredited through the AZA's rigorous and independent review process 10 months ago.  The process is a thorough, unbiased, lengthy evaluation involving a self-evaluation, on-site inspection and peer review.  Member organizations must be accredited every 5 years.

·         AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums reach more than 182 million people annually.  Vancouver Aquarium teaches and inspires more than 900,000 people annually and is involved with critical research and conservation initiatives.

·        Zoos and aquariums make a difference in people's attitudes toward animals. Together, they inspire and mobilize people to care for animals and take action on their behalves in the wild, at a time when the world's land, oceans and animals need our help more than ever.

·        Millions of people every year learn about marine mammals at accredited members including Vancouver Aquarium. They watch, connect with, and come to care about these incredible creatures in ways that exceed the benefits of books, television and film. They learn that everything on this planet is interconnected and everyone must do their part to sustain and protect animals and the environment. 

·        As I mentioned earlier, Vancouver Aquarium is very involved in conservation and research and is helping to sustain and protect cetaceans globally.

·        The Aquarium's Canadian Shoreline Cleanup engages tens of thousands of people annually in one of the largest direct action environmental events in Canada.

·        Their Marine Mammal Rescue Center saves sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals and rehabilitates them for release back into the wild.

·        These are just a couple of important examples of the contributions of the Vancouver Aquarium.

·        Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the Vancouver Aquarium is also one of a handful of places in the city where people can connect with nature and must be able to continue to that mission of inspiring people to protect, marine mammals and the oceans and land on which we all depend.

·        I am happy to answer any questions you may have and thank you for your time today.



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