One of the accomplishments we are proud of at the Los Angeles Zoo is our accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Every five years we stand for renewing our accreditation. It is not a given, and each zoo or aquarium must complete a comprehensive application, undergo a multi-day onsite inspection by other zoo professionals, and have a review before the 15-member accreditation commission. Everything that encompasses the work and obligations of a modern zoo or aquarium is reviewed.
We are proud of the fact that we are one of only about 230 facilities that hold AZA accreditation. It is truly the gold standard. However, the journey to accreditation can be intimidating for facilities that have not yet achieved it. The AZA Board, on which I currently serve, is looking at that issue to see if there are ways that we as a professional organization can encourage, nurture, and inspire nonaccredited facilities to become AZA accredited. There are so many operational benefits to accreditation for a zoo or aquarium, not to mention access to thousands of professionals who are dealing with the same challenges and opportunities. AZA-accredited facilities already welcome more than 180 million visitors combined and together contribute more than $215 million toward conservation each year. With more and more accredited members, our impact on conservation, animal welfare, STEM education, and community quality of life will soon be immeasurable.
I am so glad and proud that you support the L.A. Zoo. We will continue to work toward meeting your expectations, the needs of our animal residents, and the AZA accreditation standards. As you travel and visit other animal-related facilities, ask if they are an accredited member of the AZA. If not, ask them why not and would they like to be accredited. Together we can make a difference for animals and the planet. See you soon at the Los Angeles Zoo.