Meeting Rigorous Standards for Our Animals with AZA Accreditation
Friday, May 19, 2023, written by Ashley Mitchell
If you’re a frequent Aquarium guest or follow us on social media, you’ve more than likely heard us talk about being AZA accredited. But, what does that mean? It’s not just some letters we put on signs to look fancy. It’s the highest and most necessary accreditation for all zoos and aquariums across the globe.
What does AZA Stand For?
AZA is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to advancing zoos and aquariums in conservation, education, science, and recreation. Less than 10% of wildlife exhibitors licensed under the Animal Welfare Act by the United States Department of Agriculture meet the more comprehensive standards of AZA accreditation.
What does AZA Do?
AZA is an organization that ensures that animals in zoos and aquariums are being given the best care and that the institutions are providing a premier guest experience. They are leaders in animal care and wellbeing, conservation projects, education programs, and professional excellence. After an extensive application process, AZA will only reward accreditation to establishments that not only meet but excel in all forms of animal well-being.
How Do You Get Accredited?
Accreditation is a process in which organizations are strictly evaluated by a team of sixteen experienced and recognized animal care professionals who analyze everything about the zoo or aquarium. These experts are known for being the best in their field and visit candidates for an in-depth review.
This includes all parts of animal responsibility: back-of-house spaces, habitats, enrichment, food, kitchens, refrigerators, trash cans, veterinary records, equipment, and everything in between. The smallest things are graded to approve proper accreditation and confirm the health and happiness of all animals. Then the team evaluates our guest services department and dives deep into how we provide the premier guest experience for everyone who walks through our doors.
The inspection extends to our education department. What are we teaching? How are we teaching it? Is our staff knowledgeable and experienced? What about conservation efforts? Are we participating in local and global conservation efforts that make a difference in the world? And that’s just the beginning. Accreditation is an elaborate process that takes years to be completed. Every five years, accredited institutions must go through the same process again to be held accountable for maintaining the highest standards in animal care.
Is the Aquarium AZA Accredited?
Yes! We are AZA accredited and up for re-accreditation in 2025. The Aquarium is the ONLY aquarium in Utah that meets the highest standards of animal well-being. Utah’s Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary are also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
For animal lovers in Utah, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and Tracy Aviary are remarkable places to visit and observe animals that are endangered, threatened, or even in some instances completely eradicated in the wild. We are all here for the same reasons and will continue to be for years to come. Let’s work together to contribute to protecting and providing animals with the finest care and excel at conservation projects that benefit our living planet.
For more information, please visit aza.org.