NEW Zoo & Adventure Park Earns AZA Accreditation

Silver Spring, Maryland (9-20-17) – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) today announced that the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“Only the very best zoos and aquariums can meet the ‘gold standards’ set for accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “By achieving AZA-accreditation, the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park demonstrates that it is committed to exemplary animal care and welfare, educational and inspiring guest experiences, and AZA’s mission to conserve our world’s wild animals and wild places.”

To be accredited, the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.

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; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; 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.  Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.

According to Neil Anderson, NEW Zoo & Adventure Park Director, “AZA standards are the most stringent in the world and the industry gold standard.  To be AZA accredited is to be among the very best zoos and aquariums.  I am humbled and honored by the day to day efforts of our professional zoo and veterinary care staff, zoo society and volunteers demonstrating their dedication and commitment to excellence. Our Zoo has been accredited since 1996. That’s a reflection on the excellence of our staff and volunteers!”

The accreditation team highlighted several aspects of the zoo’s animal care and operations. Here are just a few:

  • An Exciting Collaborative Master Plan has been completed.
  • The ropes course, zip line and associated building are an excellent addition and represents collaboration and commitment of the County to the zoo’s success.
  • The amount of community engagement and understanding of the AZA Mission of the Education staff is outstanding.
  • When completed the hospital will be a great asset to the zoo.
  • Zoo keeper animal enrichment and training program well done for a zoo this size.
  • Grounds were maintained and it is especially impressive since much is completed by volunteers.
  • Additional comments regarding staff operations, gift shop, concession meal choices and maintenance staff points of particular achievement in all areas.

The Zoo is looking forward to continuing to provide the community with a world class zoo which is truly a reflection of our community’s engagement past present and towards a successful future.’

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

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