Building North America's Largest Wildlife Conservation Movement
Naples Zoo Earns
Naples, FL — Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is proud to announce that accreditation was granted by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in March 2011. Every AZA facility goes through the rigorous inspection process every five years in hopes of being accredited and with it the honor and responsibility of caring for some of the planet's most extraordinary creatures. Of the more than 2,800 USDA licensed facilities in North America, only just over 200 have received this high status. While Naples Zoo first earned accreditation in 2001, there is no guarantee the credential will be renewed during subsequent inspections.
As the only accredited facility in Southwest Florida, Naples Zoo will be able to continue offering area residents and visitors a diverse collection of rare animals and the understanding that their zoo visit helps in the worldwide effort for long-term species survival. Larry Richardson, biologist and first president of the Naples Zoo Board of Directors, explains why an accredited zoo is important to the area. “The Southwest Florida community can be proud that Naples Zoo continues to meet the ever increasing professional standards set forth by the AZA – especially at a time when other institutions that were accredited long before Naples Zoo are not maintaining that accreditation. AZA accreditation insures guests that they while they enjoy their visit, Naples Zoo is also providing quality care for their animals and participating in worldwide conservation.”
The application process alone for AZA accreditation takes about a year. It culminated in late summer 2010 when Naples Zoo staff electronically submitted the accreditation application and supporting documentation. (This once took two four-inch-thick notebooks.) Naples Zoo welcomed the AZA inspectors in late January.
During the three day inspection, all aspects of Naples Zoo were reviewed — from animal care to educational programs and from financial stability to visitor services. Accreditation inspection team members have significant experience in operations, animal management, and animal health from other AZA accredited zoos. The three person inspection team —including a zoo director, zoo veterinarian, and curator – looked carefully at all aspects of Naples Zoo, including the fact that the facility recently transitioned to a non-profit organization.
Following the inspection, the team prepared a written report for the Accreditation Commission. Zoo Director David Tetzlaff and three other zoo staff then sat before the 18 member commission during the AZA's Regional Conference. At the conclusion of the hearing, all were thrilled to hear the congratulations following the good news that Naples Zoo had again been accredited.
“We are very pleased to grant accreditation to the Naples Zoo,” stated Kristen L. Vehrs, Interim Executive Director of the AZA. “Zoos and aquariums in North America are continually evolving and reaffirming their commitment to animal care, professionalism, ethics, conservation, and education. In turn they are enriching the lives of their community. Naples Zoo is no exception.”
Founded in 1924, AZA's mission is to support member excellence in conservation, education, science, and recreation. Accreditation has been mandatory for membership in AZA for decades and zoos and aquariums undergo the complete accreditation process every five years to insure they meet the ever-rising industry standards in all areas including animal care, veterinary programs, and safety.
Learn more about the AZA.