On Monday, April 9, Mayor Peter Carlisle announced that the Honolulu Zoo’s accreditation has been renewed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the nation’s leading accrediting organization for zoos and aquariums. The AZA accredits only institutions that have achieved rigorous standards for animal care, education, wildlife conservation, and science. This accreditation renewal affirms that the Honolulu Zoo is meeting, if not exceeding, those standards.
The Honolulu Zoo is located on 42 acres in Kapiolani Park and has more than 1,000 animals. Its mission is to inspire the stewardship of our living world by providing meaningful experiences to our guests. The zoo hosts more than 600,000 visitors each year.
While the Honolulu Zoo never lost its accreditation, the AZA tabled or put it on hold last year based on the outcome of its regular five-year accreditation inspection and review. However, through the support provided by Mayor Carlisle and the Department of Enterprise Services, the zoo addressed issues identified by the accreditation team. Over the past year, the zoo was able to fill vacant personnel positions, complete repairs and upgrade animal exhibits.
“The Honolulu Zoo is one of our city’s treasures,” Carlisle said. “It’s very important to keep the animals healthy, happy and thriving. These latest upgrades and improvements will help our zoo remain a vibrant, world-class facility so our residents and visitors can continue to enjoy its animal collection.”
One major improvement was the new elephant exhibit. “This new home for our elephants is nine times larger than the previous exhibit and has two 50,000 gallon swimming pools, which the elephants are thoroughly enjoying,” said Honolulu Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo.
The new elephant enclosure sits on 1.5 acres of land and also features a holding area behind the exhibit that measures more than 7,000 square feet. The zoo recently renovated its lion enclosure and acquired two new lions.
The AZA conducted a follow-up accreditation inspection in January of 2012. The exit interview report by the inspection team stated, “An absolutely amazing volume of significant work has been accomplished in the past year.”