AZA News Releases

24 World-Class Aquariums and Zoos Achieve AZA Accreditation

SILVER SPRING, Md.  Twice a year, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission holds post-inspection hearings on accreditation applications from the best aquariums, nature centers, science centers, and zoos in the world. Most recently, the Commission conducted 27 accreditation and two certification hearings during the AZA Mid-Year Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. As a result of these rigorous assessments, AZA proudly announces the accreditation of the following, including three new facilities:

  • Acuario de Veracruz, Mexico
  • Adventure Aquarium, N.J.
  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, La.
  • Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, & Zoo, Bermuda
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Calif.
  • Charles Paddock Zoo, Calif.
  • Dolphin Discovery Punta Cana, Mexico [NEW]
  • The Florida Aquarium, Fla.
  • Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Texas
  • Gladys Porter Zoo, Texas
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium, Ill.
  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Calif.
  • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Utah [NEW]
  • Memphis Zoo, Tenn.
  • Museum of Science, Mass.
  • Nashville Zoo, Tenn.
  • National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Iowa
  • Newport Aquarium, Ky.
  • Oakland Zoo, Calif.
  • Oceanogràfic Valencia, Spain [NEW]
  • Reid Park Zoo, Ariz.
  • Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Tenn.
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Fla.
  • Tennessee Aquarium. Tenn.

AZA also granted certification to two certified-related facilities: the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in Louisiana and Natural Encounters, Florida. The certification process is equivalent to the accreditation process but recognizes excellence in non- commercial wildlife-holding facilities that are not open to the public on a regular basis. 

“Fewer than ten percent of zoos and aquariums licensed federally by USDA have also achieved AZA accreditation,” said AZA Accreditation Commission Chair Jeff Wyatt. “The about 200 million guests that visit AZA-accredited facilities each year can be certain they are supporting facilities dedicated to superior animal care, meaningful guest education, and impactful wildlife conservation.”

AZA requires facilities to complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years to be members of the Association. The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site multi-day inspection by an independent team of trained zoological professionals. The inspecting team observes 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; guest services. Detailed reports from the inspection team and the facility alike are then thoroughly evaluated by the Accreditation Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed in person by the Commission at a formal hearing, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied.

“AZA’s independent commission accredits only the world’s highest-achieving aquariums and zoos that have met or surpassed our rigorous, ever-improving standards,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “AZA-accredited facilities embody AZA’s mission of protecting wildlife and wild places by providing expert care to hundreds of thousands of animals, educating millions of guests, and contributing over $200 million to field conservation efforts each year. I am proud to welcome these facilities and their staffs to our community of animal heroes.”

Over the past ten years, the Commission has accredited 254 facilities, with many being successfully accredited twice during that time span.

There are currently 236 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and 15 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and in 10 other countries.

The Commission will next hold hearings to review accreditation applications in Fall 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. For a full list of facilities applying for AZA accreditation, please visit For a complete list of currently accredited AZA-facilities, please visit

About AZA

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 10 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

Posted by Ashley Jones at 9:30 AM

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