On Wednesday, September 26, during the annual Association of Zoos and Aquariums conference in Seattle, WA, the Vancouver Aquarium received the top industry standard following a thorough review by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission. The AZA accreditation program was established in 1974 and the Vancouver Aquarium was the first-ever aquarium to receive this designation in 1975.
“For 62 years, the Vancouver Aquarium has held itself to the highest standards, subscribing to and oftentimes establishing the best practices for zoos and aquariums,” said Dr. John Nightingale, president and CEO of Ocean Wise. “This marks the 43rd consecutive year of AZA accreditation for our facility. It’s an honour to continue to be recognized for the exceptional work our team does across all facets of our organization from animal care to species conservation to educational programming to visitor experience and everything in between.”
To be accredited, the Vancouver Aquarium underwent a detailed evaluation to meet and continue to meet the ever-rising industry standards. 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 and welfare, veterinary programs, educational programs, conservation efforts, staff training, safety for visitors, staff and animals, financial stability, risk management, visitor services, and more. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled or denied. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.
“Only the very best zoos and aquariums can meet AZA’s accreditation standards for animal care and conservation, which are universally acknowledged as the ‘gold-standard’ within the zoological profession,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of AZA. “By achieving accreditation, the Vancouver Aquarium demonstrates a commitment to protecting animals around the world and inspiring their guests to do the same.”
Each year, Ocean Wise connects millions of people worldwide to the ocean and ocean conservation issues both in person and online. The organization’s many research, education, and direct action programs include Vancouver Aquarium and its Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, Plastic Wise, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Ocean Wise Seafood, AquaVan, and the Coastal Ocean Research Institute.
The Vancouver Aquarium is a fully accredited member of AZA, as well as a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), and American Humane.