BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – February 7, 2014 – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) today announced that Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission. Fewer than 10 percent of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA-accredited. Currently, there are only 223 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.
“By meeting Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Standards, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo sets itself apart as one of the top zoos in the world,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is a leader in the care and conservation of wildlife, and in educating people about the natural world.”
To be accredited, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo underwent a thorough review to ensure it has and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.
The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation, including animal care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.
“As a leading family destination, entertaining and educating the public are our top priorities,” shared Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “However, unlike many other attractions, our exhibits feature live animals and that carries very important responsibilities. It is an honor for us to receive this designation again because it means that we are among the very best in visitor experience, animal care, education, and conservation.”
Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo features more than 300 animals representing North and South America. Highlights include an indoor Tropical Rainforest with walk-through aviary, New England Farmyard, Wolf Observation Learning Facility (WOLF), carousel, and Victorian greenhouse. This year, the zoo welcomed a female Amur leopard and three Mexican wolves; both are critically endangered species.
As part of its mission, Connecticut’s only zoo is involved in groundbreaking animal conservation efforts. The Zoo is home to the first Brazilian ocelot ever to have multiple pregnancies and kittens produced by artificial insemination. Similarly, the Zoo is the first accredited zoo in the northeast to welcome a Chacoan peccary piglet and was the first accredited zoo in the northeast to exhibit this endangered species.