What is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums?
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. AZA represents more than 235 facilities in the United States and overseas.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums meet the highest standards in animal care and welfare and provide a fun, safe, and educational family experience. In addition, they dedicate millions of dollars annually to support scientific research, conservation, and education programs.
AZA is the independent accrediting organization for the best zoos and the best aquariums in America and the world, assuring the public that when they visit an AZA-accredited facility, it meets the highest standards for animal care and welfare. Less than 10 percent of the 2,800 wildlife exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act meet the more comprehensive standards of AZA accreditation. The highly trained professionals at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide excellent care for more than 800,000 animals, making them the leading experts in animal care and welfare.
What Does It Mean to be AZA-Accredited?
The Utica Zoo is only 1 of 237 AZA-accredited institutions. So, what does it mean to be accredited?
AZA accreditation is an assurance we’re dedicated to providing the best possible care to our animals and a better future for all living things.
Only the very best zoos and aquariums can meet the AZA’s tough accreditation standards. Receiving accreditation is a monumental affair and a goal for zoos and aquariums as a signal that they are leaders within their fields. AZA accreditation ensures that the animals you visit at accredited zoos and aquariums receive excellent care every day. As members, donors and friends, you should be proud to know that your Zoo has met the mandatory, rigorous, professional standards for animal welfare and management, veterinary care, behavioral enrichment, nutrition, conservation, education, safety and staff training.
When an institution receives accreditation, it means that they are meeting and/or exceeding the standards of animal welfare, care, and management set forth by AZA.
AZA accreditation serves as a guide for the public as to which zoos and aquariums are providing the best for the animals in their care. Utica Zoo’s accreditation sets the zoo apart from other non-accredited institutions and marks it as an example of excellence.
Why Accreditation Matters.
Whether you visit one time or are a loyal member, by visiting accredited zoos, you are contributing to valuable conservation programs both in managed environments like zoos, aquariums, and wildlife preserves; and also helping animals struggling to survive in disappearing wild places.
AZA facilities have a history of saving species, including the American bison, the golden lion tamarin, red wolf, Mexican wolf, and black-footed ferret among many others. More than 30 species would cease to exist without AZA-accredited facilities. AZA members are working to increase wild populations of species in our care through 117 reintroduction programs, including more than 50 reintroduction programs for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Under our watchful care, these populations are being rebuilt.
Before your next adventure to a zoo or aquarium, be sure to research the institution to see if it’s AZA-accredited. Doing this ahead of time allows you to ensure that the institution you are visiting and supporting is dedicated to providing the best animal care at all times. One of the benefits of being a Utica Zoo member is that most AZA institutions offer reciprocal benefits!