Providing the highest standard of care for our animals is a top priority at Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. As such, maintaining our accreditation with professional associations is an integral component in our commitment to preserving marine life through conservation, research and education. We are longstanding members of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA). The accreditation process for these organizations is an intensive one, taking place every five years and involving detailed inspections and hours of preparation and dedication on the part of our employees.
We are pleased to announce Vancouver Aquarium has recently completed another successful accreditation process with AMMPA, an international organization whose members include marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study and wildlife presentations. Vancouver Aquarium has been a member of AMMPA since its inception in 1987.
The Alliance is an important resource for organizations aimed at:
- Rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing stranded marine mammals
- Providing homes for animals that are deemed non-releasable
- Collecting stranded animal data, which is a significant source of information on the natural history, health and status of wild populations.
“Without accreditation from these associations, it would be difficult for the Aquarium to operate in regards to our animal management,” said Dennis Thoney, director of animal operations at Vancouver Aquarium. “The inspectors were very impressed with all aspects of our marine mammal operation ranging from training, husbandry, records, facilities, and management, which reflects on the dedication and expertise of our staff here at the Aquarium.”
AMMPA administers a stringent, multi-day accreditation process for its members, commencing with an extensive tour of Aquarium facilities led by Brian Sheehan, Vancouver Aquarium’s curator of marine mammals, and followed by a day of interviews with Aquarium employees in a variety of roles. “They talk to people across the organization to inquire about all aspects of our animal management program – from animal care to training and interpretive delivery,” Sheehan said. In addition to inspecting the Aquarium’s facilities, water quality, habitats, records, training protocols and more, AMMPA inspectors also look at how the Aquarium is developing and educating staff to ensure there are strong succession and knowledge transfer plans.
By staggering the accreditation process with other professional organizations, Sheehan said his department is inspected every two-and-a-half years, ensuring our animal care and husbandry operations are always in top form. Meanwhile, membership in AMMPA allows for access to specialized information from member organizations that help in our rescue, rehabilitation and conservation efforts. “You can’t be an expert in everything,” Sheehan said. “But by being part of that group you have access to all those experts available to you.”
We look forward to many more years of membership with AMMPA and the other organizations that help us in our goal of protecting the world’s oceans through conservation, education and research.