(Pittsburgh) (September 2012)—The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) announced the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has been granted accreditation.

            “Receiving AZA accreditation is the gold standard for zoos and aquariums,” says Dr. Barbara Baker. “It validates all the hard work we do at the Zoo and the International Conservation Center (ICC) every day.”

            “Only zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “The community should take great pride in knowing that the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is ranked among the best zoos and aquariums in the world.”

            The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium spent months preparing. “It’s a tough process, but it gives us a chance to take a good inside look at what we are doing every day and if something needs to be tweaked or changed, we do it”, says Dr. Baker.

            The AZA inspection team spent three days touring the Zoo, inspecting all of the facilities and interviewing staff. A full, written report was sent to the AZA Accreditation Commission, comprised of 15 members who are experts in each of the critical areas - animal husbandry, management, institutional operations, and veterinary medicine. The Accreditation Commission reviews both the inspection team’s report and the Zoo’s response during a hearing where Dr. Baker is present.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums was founded in 1924 and currently represents 224 accredited zoos and aquariums in North America. AZA's mission is to support membership excellence in conservation, education, science, and recreation. Accreditation by the AZA is crucial for participation in conservation programs such as the Species Survival Plan - an international, cooperative breeding program for threatened and endangered animals. The Zoo currently participates in plans provided by SSP for 22 animals.