Pictured is Tyrion, an African leopard at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Amanda Carberry | Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

POWELL — Today (March 27), the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) announced that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was granted full accreditation.

“I’m proud of our team, both our staff and our board of directors. We have accomplished so much over the last 18 months. From restructuring our animal care program to the development of over 30 new financial policies and procedures, we are a much stronger institution today,” said Tom Schmid, President and CEO of the Columbus Zoo.

“We have a new governance model, which joins our elected and appointed members into one cohesive and engaged board. During the Zoo’s AZA inspection in December, the inspection team noted no major concerns and no concerns remaining from the previous inspection. The inspectors recognized 12 points of particular achievement, including the Zoo’s animal acquisition and disposition policy. That policy was identified as a concern during our previous inspection in 2021. The outcome of our recent inspection really demonstrates how far we have come,” said Schmid.

Other points of particular achievement highlighted the Zoo’s inclusive programming for diverse audiences, the global impact of its wildlife conservation work, the Zoo’s comprehensive education programing, the resilience and professionalism of staff, and the leadership, vision, and transparency of the CEO.

Schmid says the timing of the accreditation is ideal as the Zoo is hosting AZA’s Annual Conference in September. “We’re excited to welcome several thousand of our colleagues to Columbus this fall.”

“Columbus has many points of pride, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is among the top. The Zoo staff’s expertise, passion, and reputation go beyond Central Ohio, making the Columbus Zoo a must-visit destination. Our Board of Directors is proud of the Zoo staff for this accomplishment. Working with our partners at the City of Columbus and Franklin County, I am excited with the progress that we have made, and even more excited about our future,” said Katie Wolfe Lloyd, Board Chairwoman.

To be AZA accredited, the Zoo underwent a thorough review to assure it is meeting or exceeding the rising standards in every aspect of its operations, including animal care and well being, veterinary medicine, governance, wildlife conservation, and research, education, finance, and safety. AZA requires facilities to complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years.

In addition to the AZA accreditation, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is also accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), and by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), an international association and accrediting body specializing in marine mammals.

“We welcome the rigor of all accreditation inspections and continue to identify new opportunities to benchmark our programming. Our objective is always to exceed standards, and to demonstrate our commitment to animal well being, education, wildlife conservation, our staff, and our guests,” said Schmid.

Information for this story was provided by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.