Silver Spring, MD - The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has announced that the North Carolina Zoo was granted accreditation by AZA's independent Accreditation Commission.

The announcement was made at the AZA National Conference held last week in Houston, TX. N.C. Zoo Director Dr. David Jones represented the zoo before the accreditation committee at the conference.

"The North Carolina Zoo is one of the best in the world because it has met the highest standards in the world," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. "It takes hard work and dedication to meet AZA Accreditation Standards."

To be accredited, the N.C. Zoo underwent a thorough investigation to ensure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to remain members of the Association. The N.C. Zoo was initially accredited by AZA in 1984 and has successfully retained membership status since.

"The North Carolina Zoo is a great place for people to connect with the natural world and each other," Maddy added. "As centers of conservation and education, AZA members support their schools and communities with inspirational science-based wildlife programs."

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 institution's operation in areas such as animal care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas. The inspection team prepares an extensive written report for the Accreditation Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal Commission hearing, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission's decision is made.

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit

The N.C. Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.