The accreditation is a huge deal for the zoo, and must be renewed every five years, said Matt Reinartz of the Como staff.
The AZA says the process involves a detailed application and on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals.
The inspection includes:
- Animal care
- Keeper training
- Safety for visitors, staff and animals
- Educational programs
- Conservation efforts
- Veterinary programs
- Financial stability
- Risk management
- Visitor services
After the inspections, zoo officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.
The AZA says the accreditation of Como “demonstrates that it is dedicated to protecting species and educating its visitors about the natural world.”
The Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth lost its AZA accreditation in 2006 due to poor housekeeping and deteriorating exhibits; zoo officials there sounded ecstatic when they reclaimed the accreditation in 2011. “We were absolutely jubilant,” said the CEO at the time.