The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced today that the Texas State Aquarium has received accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission. Founded in 1924, the AZA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation.
The facility first opened in Corpus Christi in 1990. Five years later, it received its initial AZA accreditation. Since that time, the aquarium has maintained its fully accredited status. The accreditation process is repeated once every five years to maintain consistency.
There is a substantial list of standards a facility must meet to become accredited. Firstly, every public facility housing animals in the United States must be licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), among others. The AZA defines eligible facilities as:
“Permanent cultural institution which owns and maintains captive wild animals that represent more than a token collection and, under the direction of a professional staff, provides its collection with appropriate care and exhibits them in an aesthetic manner to the public on a regularly scheduled basis. They shall further be defined as having as their primary business the exhibition, conservation and preservation of the earth’s fauna in an educational and scientific manner.”
There are highly specific sets of standards that must be met or exceeded to maintain accreditation which include animal health and welfare, adaquate staffing, fundraising, veterinary programs, and the active involvement in global conservation efforts. These standards help regulate the zoological industry, ensuring that all animals in human care are receiving the very best care and treatment under the accreditation umbrella. Seeing an AZA logo at a zoo or aquarium also reassures visitors that their experience at the facility will be family friendly and educational. Receiving and maintaining accreditation is a celebrated accomplishment. Texas State Aquarium President and CEO Tom Schmid said:
“We are very proud of our continuing accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It is recognition that we maintain the highest standards of practice in regards to animal care, facility maintenance and safety and education and conservation practices, which meet with our mission to engage people with animals, inspire appreciation for our seas, and support wildlife conservation.”