The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) today announced that the Riverside Discovery Center was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.
“Less than 10% of animal exhibitors registered with USDA have achieved AZA-accreditation, so Riverside Discovery Center truly ranks among the best-of-the-best,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The Riverside Discovery Center has shown its commitment to conservation and protecting the natural world by meeting our accreditation standards in animal care and welfare, which are universally acknowledged as the ‘gold-standard’ within the zoological profession.”
To be accredited, Riverside Discovery Center underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.
The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation, including animal care and welfare; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and more. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.
Riverside Discovery Center has been an accredited AZA member since 1990.
“We are thrilled to reaffirm our commitment to constantly improving the care we provide our animals and the experience we provide our guests by continuing our relationship with The Association of Zoos & Aquariums, which represents the gold standard for which all zoos strive,” said zoo director Anthony Mason. “I am so happy that every day we have the ability to positively impact guests from the Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming region and beyond.”
The AZA inspection team mentioned as particular strengths the amount the Zoo has been able to accomplish in a short period of time in regards to improving animal care, enrichment and vet care. AZA noted that Riverside Discovery Center is making all the right moves to improve guest experience and recruit talented and knowledgeable staff members who are driving facility growth.