Aquarium Earns Aza Accreditation

April 10, 2006

The rating puts the Aquarium in the top 10% of the Nation's Zoos and Aquariums

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is proud to announce that accreditation was granted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission during its meeting at the association’s Regional Conference held in Jacksonville, Florida. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to become accredited in order to become members of the association. Accreditation is granted for five years, at the end of which the institution must undergo the rigorous investigation again to ensure that it meets ever rising industry standards in collection care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.

“We are very pleased to grant accreditation to the Oregon Coast Aquarium,” said Kristen L. Vehrs, Interim Executive Director of AZA. “Zoos and aquariums in North America are continually evolving and reaffirming their commitment to animal care, professionalism, ethics, conservation and education. In turn they are enriching the lives of their community. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is no exception.”

Aquarium President, Dale Schmidt said the accreditation puts the Aquarium among the nation's best. "Out of the 2,200 licensed zoos and aquariums in the nation, only 210 have the AZA accreditation," said Schmidt. "What this means is that we are among the top 10%. This distinction, along with the recent top 10 rating by USA Today and Coastal Living makes us very proud."

The mission of the AZA Accreditation Commission is to establish, uphold and raise the highest zoological and aquarium industry standards through self-evaluation, on-site inspection and peer review. The accreditation process includes an initial application and a two or three day inspection by a team of zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the facility’s operation in areas such as collection care (including living environment and daily enrichment), financial stability, risk management and visitor services. The team prepares an extensive written report for the Accreditation Commission. Finally, a formal hearing is held where top officials are interviewed by the Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled or denied. Any facility that is denied may reapply after the concerns of the Commission have been addressed. Accreditation of zoos and aquariums became a mandatory requirement for membership in the AZA in 1980. In order to retain membership and remain accredited, zoos and aquariums undergo the complete accreditation process every five years.

AZA was founded in 1924 and currently represents 210 accredited zoos and aquariums, most of which are located in North America. AZA’s mission is to support member excellence in animal care, conservation, education, science and recreation. For additional information about AZA and its members, visit