The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre has been recognized for its longstanding accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the non-profit, professional organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the area of conservation, education, science and recreation.

The AZA recently announced Vancouver Aquarium is among the inaugural group of more than 100 organizations to receive its new Quarter Century Award. The award recognizes organizations that have consistently met their high standards for 25 years or more and highlights each facility’s unwavering commitment to animal care, welfare, conservation and education.

The Vancouver Aquarium has been an accredited member of the AZA since 1975. In fact, it was the very first aquarium to be accredited by AZA, helping the association establish its longstanding dedication to advancing marine science, conservation and animal care.

Dr. Valeria Vergara listens to beluga chatter as she works to decode their aquatic language.

It’s great to be recognized for high standards of animal care, education, conservation and research, such as the work we do studying beluga whales in Canada’s North.

Since then, AZA members have gone on to lead the way in field conservation initiatives, with accredited organizations spending $154 million on more than 3,000 conservation programs in 130 countries in 2014 alone. The AZA also oversees more than 450 Species Survival Plan programs carried out by member organizations to ensure the survival of threatened species including the giant panda, the California condor and the lowland gorilla.

“AZA is dedicated to ensuring that the highest standards in the zoological profession are met, and this means that the accreditation process is therefore quite rigorous,” said AZA president and CEO Jim Maddy. “The fact that these aquariums and zoos have maintained continuous AZA accreditation for 25 years or more is an extraordinary achievement that deserves to be celebrated.”

To be accredited, facilities must complete a thorough review to ensure that they meet and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. The AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.

Levi using the support sling that was originally developed for Daisy in 2008.

Our marine mammal rehabilitation programs are just one way we demonstrate our commitment to species survival and conservation.

The AZA accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by an independent team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes and assesses all aspects of the institution’s operation, including how animals are cared for, conservation efforts, veterinary programs and financial stability.

“The Vancouver Aquarium is delighted to be recognized for our ongoing commitment to providing the highest standards of care for our animals and the highest quality experience for visitors, volunteers and employees,” said Dr. John Nightingale, president and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. “We look forward to continuing our AZA membership for many years to come.”

Vancouver Aquarium is also accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums.

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