Columbus Zoo Loses Accreditation Appeal

The zoo will be able to apply for accreditation in September 2022.

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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo has lost its appeal for accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

In October, the AZA denied accreditation to the Columbus Zoo after an incident report and a review from the independent accreditation commission.

The zoo appealed this decision Monday, per a release from the AZA. However, after a review from the AZA board of directors, the appeal was denied.

The following statement was issued by the board:

“After carefully considering the appeal request submitted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the AZA Board of Directors affirmed the decision by the AZA Accreditation Commission. Like the members of the Commission, we do not make this decision lightly. We are encouraged by recent actions taken by new leadership at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, but in view of the serious and persistent violations of AZA standards, over at least the past 5 years, we cannot accredit at this time. We are hopeful that Columbus will continue addressing recommendations from the Commission, and seek accreditation from AZA again in the near future.”

After the initial hearing in October, AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe said in a statement that there were issues at the Columbus Zoo of financial mismanagement and a “long record of intentional and repeated animal transfers with non-AZA members intended to supply baby animals — mainly big cats — for entertainment purposes.”

The Columbus Zoo says in a release that they will not be deterred. The zoo’s president and CEO Tom Schmid says they “will not be slowed down by the AZA Board decision.”

“We are moving forward. In the last nine months, the Zoo team has moved mountains to make transformative changes that continue to make us a better Zoo with new team members, new policies, and more oversights that were in place at the time of the AZA inspection in July,” says Schmid.

Schmid took over the role from interim president and CEO Jerry Borin on Dec. 6. He participated in Monday’s appeal along with board chair Keith Shumate,  Senior Vice President  of Animal Care and Conservation Dr. Jan Ramer and Borin.

“Being accredited by a third-party professional association is important, so we are exploring all options to continue fulfilling our mission and to continue our work with endangered and threatened species that need our help,” says Schmid.

The zoo will be able to apply for accreditation in September 2022.

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