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Niabi Zoo earns accreditation from Zoological Association of America

The ZAA is a non-profit accrediting organization dedicated to responsible wildlife management, wildlife conservation, and education.

COAL VALLEY, Ill. — The Niabi Zoo says they have officially been granted membership into the Zoological Association of America (ZAA). 

The ZAA is a nonprofit accrediting organization that focuses on responsible wildlife management, conservation and education, according to the mission statement on their website.

“ZAA accreditation establishes an extremely high bar with respect to professional standards and modern animal management practices” said Zoo Director Lee Jackson. “We look forward to working with this exceptional organization as we continue to grow and improve."

The zoo lost their accreditation with the AZA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums back in 2012. 

The AZA is another accrediting organization in the United States,

The Zoo Director at the time, Marc Heinzman, said a series of issues led to the loss. At the time, the AZA was also recommending additional staff like a full-time veterinary technician.

Jackson says the zoo today has an on-site animal hospital which provides services on a contracted basis.

The AZA denied accreditation to the Niabi Zoo back in September of 2019.  Jackson said a reason was due to the zoo having antiquated exhibitry, or exhibits that are considered old-fashioned when compared to more modern facilities. 

Jackson said they planned to continue to pursue accreditation from the AZA in addition to their ZAA accreditation. 

There are more than 230 zoos and aquariums accredited by the ZAA in 45 states and 11 other countries around the world.

To become accredited through the ZAA, zoos have to go through an in-depth application and review process every five years, according to the Niabi Zoo.  This includes a multi-day inspection by a team of animal care and management professionals.  Inspectors look for animal welfare, veterinary care, nutrition, enrichment, security, safety, facility maintenance, record keeping and a thorough review of policies.

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