Maslanka M, Ward A, Moore DE. 2013. A field guide to AZA accreditation from a nutritional perspective. In Ward A, Coslik A, Mahan K, Treiber K, Reppert A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Tenth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Salt Lake City, UT.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) maintains a rigorous accreditation process in order to ensure that AZA-member zoos meet the highest standards of animal care, welfare and management; veterinary care; business management; education; and conservation responsibility. This process is managed by the Accreditation Commission, and is implemented at individual facilities via the inspection team (a team of three – four individuals, comprising several fields of expertise to cover most areas of zoo operations). The accreditation preparation process is lengthy and detailed, covering all aspects of zoo management, not only animal-related issues.
There are two main parts of the AZA Accreditation Commission Visiting Committee’s inspection – reviewing the institution’s written submission and the on-site inspection. The written submission includes answers to AZA-requested information and all associated support materials. From the written submission, the team gets an initial impression of the operation and develops any potential questions they may want to ask while on-site to assess the operation in more detail. The on-site inspection allows the team to assess whether the written submission corresponds to actual practices, and allows them to develop and ask additional questions. It is important that the written submission complements the on-site inspection, and vice versa.