Statement by Kris Vehrs, Executive Director, Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Before the Vancouver Board of Parks and RecreationJul 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
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
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
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
I am happy to answer any questions you may
have and thank you for your time today.
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