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Honolulu Zoo achieves esteemed AZA accreditation

One of the Honolulu Zoo’s resident elephants, Vaigai.

HONOLULU – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has announced that the Honolulu Zoo was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“AZA accreditation signifies Honolulu Zoo’s active role in protecting our world’s wild animals and wild places while providing exceptional animal care and meaningful guest experiences,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The Honolulu Zoo is truly a leader in the zoological profession, and I am proud to have them among our members.”

“I’m so proud knowing that the hard work and love the Honolulu Zoo staff has for their animals is being recognized and certified on an international level,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “It’s because of their efforts under the leadership of Director Santos these past 4 years, and assisted by the Department of Enterprise Services Deputy Director Tracy Kubota, that they regained their accreditation. The Honolulu Zoo is one of the gems of our island of Oʻahu, and this puts us among the best of the best, not just in our country, but around the world.”

“I would like to recognize the hard work of the Honolulu Zoo staff, along with the leadership and staff of the numerous agencies of the City and County of Honolulu, and our two support organizations, the Honolulu Zoo Society and Service System Associates,” said Honolulu Zoo Director Linda Santos. “Everyone’s coordinated efforts were critical in achieving AZA accreditation and I am very proud of their teamwork. We look forward to working closely with the AZA, once again, to expand our role in conservation efforts.”

To be accredited, the Honolulu Zoo underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the facility’s operation, including the following:

Animal care and welfare
Keeper training
Safety for visitors, staff and animals
Educational programs
Conservation efforts
Veterinary programs
Financial stability
Risk management
Visitor services

Top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any facility that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.

The AZA inspection team mentioned that the Honolulu Zoo, “…has impressive and impactful conservation programs...” They noted that the new Ectothem Complex, “…provides a model for other zoos,” and stated the Honolulu Zoological Society’s, “…
Zoo Niele episodes are inventive, educational, entertaining and very well presented.”

About AZA
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 11 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

About the Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo’s mission is to inspire stewardship of our living world by providing conservation, education, and meaningful experiences to our community.  The Zoo emphasizes Pacific tropical island ecosystems and our traditional values of mālama (caring) and hoʻokipa (hospitality).

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