The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (Zoo) has been awarded a five-year accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The accreditation certifies that the Zoo has met or exceeded the AZA’s standards for animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.
“I am incredibly proud of the hard work that our entire staff does every day to meet and exceed the rigorous accreditation standards of the Association and Zoos and Aquariums,” said Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “AZA’s support of the zoo community is critical to our collective efforts to advance and evolve all aspects of animal care and management. We’ll build upon this milestone and continue to empower the next generation of zoo professionals and conservationists while leading the Smithsonian’s effort to save wildlife species from extinction.”
To receive accreditation, the Zoo underwent a thorough investigation, submitting hundreds of pages of documents on zoo protocols, facilities, operations, finances and research activities as well as a five-day site inspection by leading zoo-industry experts. AZA inspectors review every aspect of a zoo’s operation—animal husbandry, veterinary programs, conservation and research programs, education programs, public outreach, safety policies and procedures, security, physical facilities, guest services and the quality of the institution’s staff. The inspectors also evaluated the Zoo’s finances, its governing authority and the relationship with its member organization, Friends of the National Zoo.
“The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is among the world-class aquariums and zoos that have achieved our rigorous accreditation standards,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The hundreds of millions of annual guests to AZA-accredited facilities like “the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute can be assured they are supporting institutions that provide high-quality animal care and contribute to crucial conservation initiatives.”
To remain a member of AZA, the Zoo must undergo this process every five years to ensure that it meets the association’s continually rising standards. The Zoo was first granted accreditation in 1977.