North Carolina Aquariums at Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island, and Jennette’s Pier were awarded Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) accreditation this week.
The NC Aquariums accredited with AZA since 1996, are now accredited through 2027. The four facilities completed all the steps to submit their applications and underwent on-site, multiple-day inspections by an independent team of zoological professionals.
The inspection team analyzed all aspects of the facilities’ operations, including animal welfare and wellbeing; veterinary care; staff training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; financial stability; risk management; governance; and guest services. The AZA Accreditation Commission thoroughly evaluated detailed reports from the inspection team and the facility.
In the final step, the AZA leadership and the Commission members interviewed Aquarium top officials at a formal hearing at the AZA 2023 Mid-Year Meeting in Oklahoma City on Sunday, March 26, after which the Aquariums were each granted accreditation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 other countries.
“Accreditation from AZA is the gold standard for zoos and aquariums. Our teams are passionate about animal care and committed to the visitor experience, and this accreditation reflects the exceptional work we do every day. We are honored to continue to receive accreditation through AZA and leverage the opportunities it provides for the North Carolina Aquariums to amplify our mission to inspire appreciation and conservation of our aquatic environments,” said Maylon White, director, North Carolina Aquariums.
The Aquariums and Pier are part of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR), the agency that oversees the state’s resources for the arts, history, libraries and nature.
“Our state’s aquariums have long been recognized as leaders in animal care, conservation, and education. Congratulations to the entire aquariums team on their sustained excellent work,” said Reid Wilson, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
There are 238 AZA-accredited facilities and 15 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and 12 other countries. For a complete list of accredited AZA facilities, please visit https://www.aza.org/current-accreditation-list.
“To hold the public’s trust as being the ‘gold standard” for zoological facilities, we are constantly evolving our standards to reflect the latest animal science,” said Dan Ashe, president and chief executive officer of AZA. “We owe it to animals in our care to provide the best animal wellbeing possible, and our rigorous accreditation process reflects that expectation. Congratulations to these outstanding zoos and aquariums for earning AZA’s accreditation.”
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. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.