St. Augustine, FL. (May 16, 2022) Last month, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission (the Commission) met to review applications for AZA accreditation.

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous, on-site, multiple-day inspection by an independent team of trained zoological professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the facility's operation, including animal welfare and well-being; veterinary care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; financial stability; risk management; governance; and guest services. Detailed reports from the inspection team and the facility alike are then thoroughly evaluated by the Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed by the Accreditation Commission at a formal hearing, after which accreditation is granted, extended for one year, or denied.

Marineland, underwent the accreditation process which takes a lot of work, and also participated in the "Pathway Toward Membership" program to assist in working toward accreditation with the help of a peer consultant or Coach. Of the 25 facilities participating in the program, Marineland is pleased to be the first Pathway participant to receive accreditation.

"Marineland Florida opened in 1938 as the world's first Oceanarium and we have been focussed on providing our guests with a hands-on experience to admire and interact with different species throughout our long history." said Travis Burke, Executive Director of The Dolphin Company North America. "Achieving AZA accreditation is a testament to the good men and women who dedicate their lives to the marvelous animals in our collection and the conservation of habitats and species in the wild. Being a part of an international group of accredited zoos & aquariums makes us better and pushes us to be better each and every day!"

Marineland, as with all the other facilities that underwent accreditation, underwent a thorough review to make sure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which emphasize animal welfare and care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires facilities to complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years as a condition of Association membership.

"Getting AZA accreditation is rigorous, and the standards continue to evolve, ensuring animal welfare remains at the forefront of our process", said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. "Our standards are comprehensive, and our process is thorough, objective, and independent, with membership measured against a commitment to meeting the "gold standard" for a modern zoological facility. We are proud to welcome these exceptional zoos, aquariums, and related facilities as AZA members".

There are currently 239 AZA-accredited facilities and 14 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and 12 other countries. For a complete list of accredited AZA facilities, please visit https://www.aza.org/current-accreditation-list

You can learn more about the AZA Pathway Toward Membership program on the AZA website: https://www.aza.org/PTM-program

May 16, 2022

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