AZA News Releases

26 Top-Tier Zoos and Aquariums Earn Meritorious AZA Accreditation

26 facilities were accredited and two certified during the Fall 2017 Cycle.

​​​​​​SILVER SPRING, Md. Twice a year, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission reviews accreditation applications from the best aquariums, nature centers, science centers and zoos in the world. Most recently, the Commission reviewed 28 accreditation applications and two certification applications. AZA is proud to announce the accreditation of the following facilities:

•    African Safari Wildlife Park, Ohio
•    Bergen County Zoological Park, N.J.
•    Cape May County Park Zoo, N.J.
•    Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo, Ill.
•    Dakota Zoo, N.D.
•    Denver Zoological Gardens, Colo.
•    Dickerson Park Zoo, Mo.
•    Fundación Temaiken, Argentina
•    Lake Superior Zoo, Minn.
•    Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens, Ill.
•    Little Rock Zoological Gardens, Ark.
•    Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, Ind.
•    Minnesota Zoological Garden, Minn.
•    Northeastern Wisconsin (NEW) Zoo, Wis.
•    Peoria Zoo, Ill.
•    Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Wash.
•    Potter Park Zoological Gardens, Mich.
•    Pueblo Zoo, Colo.
•    Racine Zoological Gardens, Wis.
•    Riverside Discovery Center, Neb.
•    SEA LIFE Orlando, Fla.
•    Scovill Zoo, Ill.
•    Toledo Zoological Gardens, Ohio
•    Topeka Zoo, Kan.
•    Tulsa Zoo, Okla.
•    Zoo Boise, Idaho

“AZA’s accreditation standards for animal health and welfare are the highest in the zoological profession – the ‘gold-standard’– and our independent Commission grants accreditation only to the top zoos and aquariums in the world,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “The 196 million visitors 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 also granted certification to 2 applicants- the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The certification process is equivalent to the accreditation process but is designed for wildlife-holding facilities that are non- commercial entities and that are not open to the public on a regular basis. 

Each facility underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. 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 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; and other areas. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing in front of the Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied.  Any facility that is denied may reapply after one year.

Two institutions, the Henson Robinson Zoo and the Biôdome de Montreal, elected to let their accreditation expire at the end of September to allow for construction and other internal improvements before seeking accreditation for another five years.

Over the past ten years, the Commission has accredited 246 facilities, with many being successfully accredited twice during that time span. The Commission has denied accreditation to 20 facilities.

There are currently 230 AZA-accredited facilities and 12 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and in eight other countries.

"It is important that individuals, families, governments, and partners like the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission can easily identify zoos and aquariums whose commitment and standards of conservation and animal welfare are top tier,” said Kira Mileham, Partnership Director of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.  “AZA accreditation is a rigorous and trustworthy way for us to be confident that those accredited organizations are striving for the best interests of the animals both in their care and in the wild."

The Commission will next meet to review accreditation applications in Spring 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. For a full list of facilities applying for AZA accreditation, please visit For a full 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 eight 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 7:30 AM
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