I’m pleased to announce that yesterday the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Commission renewed Lincoln Park Zoo’s accreditation status for another five years. We expected this seal of approval, but it’s always rewarding to see your institution meet the high standards of the group overseeing zoos throughout the United States.
Of course, the accreditation process isn’t a one-day affair. While we always work to exceed the AZA’s high standards in areas ranging from animal care to visitor safety, accreditation was a special focus this year.
We submitted a 1,600-page application to the AZA in February, detailing everything from education programs to funding in our endowment. In June, we welcomed a three-day inspection from animal experts, who scrutinized every inch of zoo grounds to ensure we made the grade. Finally, yesterday we answered questions and provided last details to the Accreditation Commission, who later gave us the happy news.
Everyone at the zoo contributed to this success. But I’d particularly like to recognize Vice President of Animal Care Megan Ross, Ph.D., who led us through the accreditation process with skill, commitment and care. After our hearing yesterday, several commissioners even congratulated her for doing so well in her first appearance. It was a compliment well earned.
The accreditation news comes at this year’s AZA Annual Conference in Phoenix. Dozens of Lincoln Park Zoo employees have come to learn and share with peers around the country. Panels include everything from Smart Purchasing Practices to the Role of Zoos and Aquariums in the Preparation of Pre-Service Teachers. I’m contributing to a discussion of the latest data on animal lifespans—research conducted at Lincoln Park Zoo by our new Vice President of Conservation & Science, Lisa Faust, Ph.D.
Even as we celebrate accreditation, we continue to see new areas where we can improve and grow. And while many of us are in Phoenix this week, there’s still plenty to see at Chicago’s free zoo. Come by to visit the baby titi monkey at the Helen Brach Primate House and zebra colt Kito at the Antelope & Zebra Area.