Zoological Association of America
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ZAA Accreditation is a rigorous, multi-phase process. The applicant must support the mission, vision, and goals of ZAA. Review the ZAA Animal Care and Enclosure Standards before applying.

Facilities are graded in many categories, including the following:

  • Physical Facility
  • Husbandry, Animal Care Practices, Animal Welfare and Well-Being
  • Record Keeping and Health Care Records
  • Knowledge of Animals by Personnel
  • Animal Diet and Nutrition
  • Facility Security
  • Veterinary Care
  • Licensing and Permits
  • Safety Plans and risk management
  • Adherence to the minimum guidelines in the ZAA Animal Care and Enclosure Standards

Objectives

  • Professional standards for husbandry, animal care practices, and animal welfare and well-being.
  • Maintain accurate animal and medical records.
  • Enhance the survival of species by the use of appropriate methods.
  • Maintain an appropriate, safe, and quality existence for animals kept in a captive environment.
  • Safety of humans, both staff and visitors, from injury and disease.

Applicants must engage in one or more of the following:

  • Exhibits exotic and/or wild animals to the public and has an educational and conservation message. The facility may be open to the public with regular hours or by appointment. Public visitation may be by facility staff guided or self-guided tours.
  • Educational outreach programs using exotic and/or wild animals.
  • Breeds exotic/or wild animals for conservation purposes or supplying zoological facilities

ZAA facility membership and accreditation is not available to exotic and/or wild animal pet owners.
 

Benefits of facility membership:

  • Quarterly ZAA Newsletter & Journal
  • The opportunity to submit articles for the Journal
  • An invitation to the ZAA Annual Conference
  • Ability to apply for facility accreditation
  • The opportunity to exchange ideas with other members
  • Legislative updates affecting the industry
  • Access to the Members Only site, which includes the newsletter archives for the ZAA and the International Society of Zooculturists
  • Access to view and list on the Available and Wanted Animal List.  (Accredited facilities only)
  • Access to the ZAA's Veterinary Advisory Group.  (Accredited facilities only)
  • Participation in the Animal Management Program (AMP)


Application Process

Application

Submit the complete Facility Membership Application with required attachments and photographs. A digital submission is preferred. Submit the $250 on-site assessment deposit. Any difference to the actual cost of the assessment will be billed to the facility, reimbursed, or credited to membership dues.  

 

The two sponsor letters must be from current ZAA professional members.  Neither sponsor may be from the applicant’s facility.  The sponsors must be from separate facilities and may not be related to each other.  Sponsors should send their letters directly to the ZAA office.  The membership committee will review the application and request supplemental material, if needed.

On-Site Assessment

Following review of the application by the membership committee, an on-site assessment will be conducted at the expense of the applicant. The inspector is chosen by the membership committee chair. The applicant has the right of refusal for any inspector.

The membership committee will further review the application and assessment. The applicant must meet the minimum guidelines in the ZAA Animal Care and Enclosure Standards.

The applicant may be a). tabled and given a timeframe to correct deficiencies, b). denied, or c). approved as a non-accredited facility member. Once approved, the applicant will be submitted to the board of directors for approval with a pro simple majority vote.

Non-Accredited Facility Status

The non-accredited facility membership does not indicate accreditation or approval of ZAA. The non-accredited facility member may not use the ZAA logo. Annual dues ($2,500) will be billed at this time. The time period between non-accredited facility status and accreditation is used for mentoring to improve the facility and correct deficiencies. The non-accredited facility must reach accredited status within five years of their non-accredited status approval to maintain membership in ZAA.

Accreditation Application

Once a facility has achieved non-accredited facility member status, there is a three-month minimum waiting period before they may apply for accreditation. Submit the completed ZAA Accreditation Application with required attachments and photographs. A digital submission is preferred. Submit the $300 non-refundable application fee and $500 site inspection deposit. Any difference to the actual cost of the assessment will be billed to the facility or reimbursed.  

 

Accreditation Site Inspection

Inspections are performed by the accreditation inspection team of two of more individuals. Re-accreditation of members in good standing requires one or more inspectors. The site inspections will be conducted at the expense of the applicant.

The inspectors are chosen by the accreditation committee chair. The applicant has the right of refusal for any inspector.

The accreditation committee will review the application and site inspection. The applicant may be a). tabled and given a timeframe to correct deficiencies, b). denied, or c). approved as an accredited facility member. Once approved, the applicant will be submitted to the board of directors for approval with a pro simple majority vote.
 

ZAA Accredited Facility Status

The accreditation status is valid for five years. The facility must re-apply for accreditation and have a site inspection before their accreditation expires. Accredited facilities have the right to use the ZAA accredited facility logo.

 

Additional Notes

On-site assessments and accreditation site inspections are at the expense of the applicant, including but not limited to airfare, car rental, food, and hotel stay. The length of the assessment and inspection is determined by the size of the facility, number of animals, number of enclosures and other areas of interest at the facility.

All information obtained or involved in the accreditation process shall be maintained in a confidential manner by ZAA. Other than the ZAA Board of Directors, Accreditation Committee, Membership Committee, and inspectors, the information will not be disseminated to anyone without the written approval of the animal facility applicant.

Sales of animals:  ZAA accredited facilities are not allowed to sell any class I animals or primates for pet purposes or to the pet industry.  ZAA also prohibits members selling animals to any known entity that promotes or engages in “canned hunts.”  Other than these restrictions, sales of animals, birds, reptiles, etc, which occur in the course of normal business is not restricted.

Accredited facilities have access to the Available and Wanted Animal List on the ZAA website.

Accredited facilities must maintain at least one ZAA professional level membership to keep the accredited status.

If the facility is accredited by a recognized zoological accrediting organization or is a foreign/overseas facility, please contact the ZAA office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the application procedure.

If the facility is to relocate to a new location, a new Accreditation inspection is required.  Evaluation is also required if new management or a new owner assumes control of the facility. 

Accreditation is predicated on maintaining ZAA facility membership, maintaining all required permits and abiding by all applicable municipal, county, state, and federal regulations.

There is a $300 application fee.  Renewing facilities that submit the application six months prior to expiration pay a discounted rate of $250

Review the ZAA Animal Care and Enclosure Standards and ZAA Policies tab (member section) on the website for additional policies.