Columbus Zoo earns accreditation


POWELL — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced today that the Zoo has been granted accreditation by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), an international association and accrediting body.

Columbus Zoo leadership was notified of this achievement following a comprehensive four-day, on-site inspection in March by a team of experienced zoological professionals, a rigorous review period by the ZAA accreditation committee, and full ZAA Board of Directors approval and voting process.

ZAA is a non-profit, membership-based, accrediting organization dedicated to its mission of responsible wildlife management, conservation, and education, and upholding the highest level of professional standards in animal welfare, safety, and ethics. The association is unique in that it is comprised of public and private facilities of wildlife educators, rescue facilities, TV and film industry animal experts, wildlife preserves, small community zoos, large zoological facilities, aquariums, and conservation organizations — all working together to elevate the care and welfare for wildlife in human care. The Columbus Zoo now joins the ranks of more than 60 facilities accredited by ZAA and is one of the largest with this distinction.

ZAA accreditation is a rigorous process that includes an extensive application and site inspection. Facilities are graded in many categories, including the physical facility, husbandry, animal care practices, animal welfare and well-being, record keeping, knowledge of personnel, animal nutrition, security, veterinary care, safety plans and risk management, and adherence to the ZAA Accreditation Standards. Accreditation must be renewed every five years, requiring that facilities reapply and undergo internal reviews and approvals, as well as the site visit in its entirety, to ensure that standards are upheld.

In addition to accreditation achieved through ZAA, the Columbus Zoo was awarded accreditation by Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), an international association and accrediting body specializing in marine mammals. This distinction was accomplished in November 2021 following a comprehensive two-day, on-site inspection of the Zoo’s manatee, polar bear, sea lion, and harbor seal facilities by a team of experienced marine mammal professionals.

“We are very proud that we continue to be recognized in our professional community as among the best facilities for caring for wildlife and contributing to conservation and education initiatives,” said Tom Schmid, President/CEO of the Columbus Zoo Family of Parks. “We welcome the rigor of all accrediting bodies, and we strive to exceed these standards in any way we can. It is important for the larger zoological community to work together in all aspects to protect the profession and ensure institutions are meeting all best practices standards. Meeting or exceeding all accreditation standards only benefits the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium at every level and supports our commitment to fulfilling our mission to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife.”

“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a first-class zoo holding one of the country’s most diverse animal collection,” said John Seyjagat, Executive Director of the Zoological Association of America. “The entire staff and support team are well qualified and professional. The Columbus Zoo is a leader in conservation endeavors, including water reclamation and recycling, wildlife conservation and rehabilitation, and animal care and welfare. We are excited to have them share this expertise with the zoological community.

“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was extremely patient, compliant, and diligent throughout the ZAA accreditation process, including the 4-day 3-inspector ZAA Accreditation Inspection,” Seyjagat continued. “ZAA proudly welcomes Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as an accredited facility and looks forward to supporting the Columbus Zoo in its animal care and welfare, staff and animal safety, wildlife conservation endeavors, and legislative engagements. Congratulations to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on its ZAA Accreditation.”

Sunshine the sea lion says hello humans. the sea lion says hello humans.

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This story was provided by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

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