The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium says it has regained its most important accreditation almost a year and a half after accreditation was denied.
The zoo announced Monday that it had been granted full accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums following an inspection in December.
Tom Schmid, the zoo’s president and chief executive officer, said the zoo is “a much stronger institution” following restructuring of its animal care program and development of more than 30 new financial policies and procedures.
Schmid said inspectors in December lauded the zoo’s animal acquisition and disposition policy, which had been identified as a concern during the previous inspection in 2021. He said the timing of the accreditation is ideal since the zoo will host the association’s annual conference in September.
The accreditation denial in October 2021 by the association, considered the nation’s top zoo-accrediting body, was a major blow to the nation’s second-largest zoological park, an institution once widely admired in its industry and by the general public and associated with celebrity director-turned-ambassador Jack Hanna.
The accrediting group had cited concerns about the zoo’s animal programs department and inappropriate business practices by its former leaders that prompted investigations and reviews. It also voiced concerns about acquisition of ambassador animals. A documentary, “The Conservation Game,” raised questions about how celebrity conservationists acquired exotic animals. The zoo later cut ties with animal vendors who don’t meet certain standards of animal care.