What is Accreditation?

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Accredited by Logo

In AZA, "accreditation" means official recognition and approval of a zoo or aquarium by a group of experts. These experts, called the AZA Accreditation Commission, carefully examine each zoo or aquarium that applies for AZA membership.

Only those zoos and aquariums that meet our high standards can become members of AZA.

Benefits of Accreditation

Public Trust

  • Develops public confidence by means that an institution meets or exceeds current professional standards;
  • Provides a publicly recognized badge signifying excellence in, and commitment to, such things as animal care, conservation and education; and
  • Distinguishes AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums from "roadside zoos."

Benefits for the Accredited Zoo or Aquarium

  • Increases eligibility for grants;
  • Cuts red tape (exempts institutions from certain government requirements, primarily at the state level);
  • Promotes professional recognition from the top zoological parks and aquariums in the Unite States;
  • Provides impartial evaluation on a periodic basis by professional colleagues;
  • Promotes excellence within the institution by causing an institution to continuously evaluate itself;
  • Provides staff an invaluable opportunity to learn from other institutions;
  • Fosters staff and community pride; and
  • Significantly improves the ability to attract and retain a high quality, profession staff.

Access to Critical AZA Programs and Services

  • Participation in Animal Exchange (access to specimens from other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums for loan or breeding);
  • Opportunities for collaboration and consultation with AZA colleagues who are top experts in their fields;
  • Participation in the Species Survival Plan, AZA's flagship Animal Conservation Program;
  • Free and discounted admission to AZA accredited institutions for collegial information-sharing and much more.

Look for the Logo

Fewer than 10% of the approximately 2,400 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited! The AZA logo is the easiest, most reliable way for people to choose zoos and aquariums that meet our rigorous accreditation standards.

So be sure to look for the "Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums" logo on web sites, advertisements, and at the gate! Before you visit, check our list of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to see if an institution is AZA accredited. For more extensive information on accreditation we invite you to download a copy of the latest edition of the Accreditation Standards and Related Policies (in PDF) and read our standards for yourself.


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