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Contact(s):Susan Altrui
501-351-0273
saltrui@littlerock.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Sunday, September 24, 2006

Zoo Granted Accreditation by Association of Zoos and Aquariums

TAMPA, FLORIDA (September 24, 2006) – The Little Rock Zoo is proud to announce it will maintain accreditation for another five years from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The Little Rock Zoo was granted accreditation today by a twelve-person accreditation commission of AZA. Accreditation hearings are held every five years for AZA member institutions. The Little Rock Zoo was granted accreditation in 2001 but was required to go through the entire process again in 2006 to maintain its accreditation.

Earlier this year, the Zoo was required to submit all formal documents and records outlining Zoo policies and procedures for animal care, safety, and conservation as well as policies covering staff safety, guest services, and future development plans for the Zoo.

In July of this year, the Zoo was inspected by a three-person team from AZA selected by the accreditation commission to be the “eyes and ears” of the accreditation commission. The visiting inspection team was complimentary of the Little Rock Zoo.

In today's hearing, Dennis Pate, chair of the 2005-2006 AZA Accreditation Commission, stated that the Zoo had a “clean accreditation” and was “well on its way to becoming a first-class zoo.”

Sunday’s hearing in front of the full twelve-person commission was the final step in the accreditation process. Zoo Director Mike Blakely, General Curator Mark Shaw, Facility Operations Director Delbert Dawson, and City Vice Mayor and Zoo Board of Governor member Brad Cazort appeared before the commission today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. During the hearing, accreditation commission members asked several questions of Zoo representatives and then presented their conclusion that the Zoo should be accredited for another five years.

Regarding the accreditation of the Little Rock Zoo, AZA President and CEO, Jim Maddy, said “We are very pleased to grant accreditation to the Little Rock Zoo. 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 Little Rock Zoo is no exception.”

“The Little Rock Zoo couldn’t be more excited about the decision of AZA to recommend our Zoo for accreditation for another five years,” said Mike Blakely.

“I’m extraordinarily pleased that AZA has chosen to accredit our Zoo for another five years and that they recognize the major advances and improvements that we’ve made. I’m especially impressed by the comment from one commission member that we are well on our way to be a first-class Zoo,” said Brad Cazort.

City officials also expressed excitement over the decision.

“The decision of the accrediting committee to recommend accreditation to the Little Rock Zoo shows the commitment of the City of Little Rock to have an outstanding zoo that maintains the best standards for animal care and conservation,” said City Manager Bruce Moore.

The Zoo will go through the accreditation process again in 2011.

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. Accreditation for zoos and aquariums became a mandatory requirement in 1980. In order to retain membership and remain accredited, zoos and aquariums undergo the complete accreditation process every five years.

For additional information on AZA or the accreditation process, please contact Denny Lewis, Director, Accreditation Programs at 301-562-0777 x265.

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