Azzedine Downes, President & CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, issued the following statement regarding the Association of Zoos and Aquariums decisions to deny accreditation to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, OH; the Safari West Wildlife Preserve in Santa Rosa, CA; Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, ND; Erie Zoo in Erie, PA; and Montgomery Zoo in Montgomery, AL.
“The Association of Zoos & Aquariums has announced some tough decisions in recent months, as they’ve had to deny their prestigious accreditation to several long-standing and well-known zoo members. Following on a rigorous and independent review process, conducted by a team of trained zoological professionals, these zoos were not meeting the standards set forth by AZA to ensure that zoos contribute to long-term conservation of species while providing the highest level of care to their animals. We thank AZA for upholding their standards and being open and transparent about their decisions—an action that reinforces their commitment to animal welfare and conservation. AZA sets the highest standard for zoological facilities and visitors to their facilities can be assured that they are contributing to conservation, rather than to the exploitative and profit-driving activities that can be found at many roadside zoos and pseudo-sanctuaries. Ultimately, we hope the members that were denied accreditation will take AZA’s recommendations on board, and that all zoological facilities that house and care for wildlife would meet AZA’s standards.”