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Great Bend Zoo silent on accreditation; Topeka Zoo earns AZA nod for 5 years
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 (AP) — Great Bend officials are refusing to discuss last week’s meeting with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums board in Phoenix, Ariz. Zoo Director Scott Gregory attended a meeting Saturday where the board was set to approve or deny AZA accreditation for the Brit Spaugh Zoo.
“I can’t say anything until the city council meeting on Monday,” Gregory said.
City Administrator Howard Partington confirmed, “there is an agenda item,” but would not release further information.
After more than a decade of struggles, the Topeka Zoo has earned its national accreditation for the next five years, which will allow it to loan and borrow animals and participate in breeding programs with other accredited zoos.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ decision should give people “confidence that we’re moving in the right direction,” city manager Jim Colson said at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“Only zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” AZA president and CEO Jim Maddy said in a news release. “The community should take great pride in knowing that the Topeka Zoo is ranked among the best zoos and aquariums in the world.”
The association ensures that zoos and aquariums meet higher standards for animal care than required by law, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
The zoo’s problems began in 2001 when it was stripped of its accreditation, which was returned in 2003. The zoo was re-accredited in 2007 but after several animal deaths and a failure to comply with federal rules, Topeka’s government asked the association to inspect the zoo again in 2009.
After inspectors found problems that included a lack of trust in management and misleading statements from the senior staff, zoo director Mike Coker resigned. The accreditation commission in March 2010 considered revoking the zoo’s accreditation but delayed a decision. The association’s inspectors visited the zoo again in January 2011, which eventually led to the zoo’s accreditation being restored.
To earn accreditation, the zoo must meet standards pertaining to animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.
“Zoo staff and Topekans alike can take pride in this recognition. And we will do everything possible to make the Topeka Zoo even better,” director Brendan Wiley said in a news release