SILVER SPRING, Maryland (September 19, 2017) -- The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) announced that the Little Rock Zoo was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“Less than 10 percent of animal exhibitors registered with USDA have achieved AZA-accreditation, so the Little Rock Zoo truly ranks among the best-of-the-best,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The Little Rock Zoo has shown its commitment to conservation and protecting the natural world by meeting our accreditation standards in animal care and welfare, which are universally acknowledged as the ‘gold-standard’ within the zoological profession.”

To be accredited, the Little Rock Zoo underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories that 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.

The Little Rock Zoo has been an accredited AZA member since regaining AZA accreditation in 2001.

“AZA Accreditation represents the highest standard for animal care and conservation and the Little Rock Zoo is honored to receive this designation. The Little Rock Zoo is the only AZA accredited zoo in Arkansas and the largest organization in our state committed to conservation education. AZA accreditation sets the bar of excellence for our organization, and we are excited for the future,” said Zoo Director Susan Altrui.