Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Loss of Accreditation Appeal Denied | Ohio News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has said its appeal for the loss of its most important accreditation has been dismissed.

The zoo said Monday that the board of directors of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums had rejected the zoo’s “strong appeal” to reinstate its accreditation or to file the matter until next year. As a result, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium cannot reapply for accreditation until September.

The denial of accreditation in October by the association, considered the top zoo accrediting body in the country, was a blow to an institution once widely admired in its industry and by the general public.

Zoo officials said earlier that the move would not affect operations or the visitor experience, but the lack of accreditation would prevent its participation in species survival and breeding programs, “which will impact species conservation programs “.

New president and CEO Tom Schmid called Monday’s decision disappointing, but said the zoo was “moving forward”.

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“Over the past 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 oversight that were in place. at the time of the AZA inspection in July, ”sad Schmid, who took over a week ago and participated in the appeal.

The accreditation group had raised concerns about the zoo’s animal programs department and inappropriate business practices by its former leaders. Investigations and reviews by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Auditor are ongoing.

The accreditation body has also expressed concerns about the zoo’s acquisition of animal ambassadors. A recent documentary, “The Conservation Game,” raised questions about how famous environmentalists, including the famous Jack Hanna, acquired exotic animals. The zoo has since cut ties with animal sellers who do not meet certain animal care standards.

Former CEO Dan Ashe told The Associated Press in an interview last month that assuming the zoo has to reapply for accreditation in September 2022, the facility would be inspected in the fall. or in the winter of next year with a decision tied to a hearing in March. 2023.

Schmid said on Monday that accreditation by a third-party trade association was important, “so we are exploring all options to continue to fulfill our mission and continue our work with endangered and threatened species that need our help.”

“Without a doubt, the care and welfare of the animals remains our top priority,” he said.

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