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What it means to be an accredited zoo

Hello everyone! It’s Allie here, and I’m a member of the Primate Team here at Zoo Atlanta. I’d like to take a second and teach you all about what it means to be an AZA-accredited facility. If you didn’t already know, AZA is an acronym for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Why is this accreditation so important to Zoo Atlanta and many zoos?

A facility that is AZA-accredited upholds the highest standards of animal care possible. As stated on AZA’s website, “AZA-Accredited Institutions are zoological parks or aquariums that maintain both a professional staff and a substantial collection of wildlife, providing animals with appropriate care, exhibiting them in an aesthetic manner on a regularly scheduled, predictable basis. Accredited-aquariums and zoos have as their primary business the exhibition, conservation, and preservation of the earth’s fauna in an educational and scientific manner.” To be a part of this organization is an honor and demonstrates to our guests that Zoo Atlanta’s animals and their welfare are of utmost importance. 

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums was founded in 1924 and is dedicated to “the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation.” In 1987, Zoo Atlanta received its initial AZA accreditation. Once a facility is accredited by AZA, they are then evaluated for accreditation every five years, since standards are constantly being changed to continuously improve animal well-being. That means that we are always striving to make the zoo a better place for animals and guests! Another benefit of being an AZA facility is that we get to take part in the SSP, or Species Survival Plan®. SSPs work together to maximize genetic diversity and ensure the survival of selected species (most of them are threatened or endangered in the wild). Be sure to look for this symbol when you’re walking around the Zoo next time! Just to give you some examples, our western lowland gorillas, Sumatran tigers, African elephants, Panamanian golden frogs, and giant pandas are some of the animals here at Zoo Atlanta that are listed under the SSP.

Now that you know a little bit more about the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and why it’s so important to Zoo Atlanta, among many other zoos and aquariums, be sure teach your friends and family about it! Also, next time you’re visiting another zoo or aquarium, look for the AZA logo to make sure you are supporting a facility that upholds the highest standards of animal care, guest experience, and conservation efforts. Thank you for learning with me and I’ll see you around the Zoo!
Allie C.
Keeper I, Primates

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