Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has again earned accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) for five years, a prestigious designation that recognizes zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards of animal care, conservation and education. Fewer than 10 percent of approximately 2,400 animal exhibitors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are AZA-accredited.
Designation Recognizes Highest Standards in Wildlife Facilities
TAMPA, Fla. (March 24, 2015) — Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has again earned accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) for five years, a prestigious designation that recognizes zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards of animal care, conservation and education. Fewer than 10 percent of approximately 2,400 animal exhibitors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are AZA-accredited.
AZA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums. AZA-accredited facilities undergo a thorough review every five years, which includes a detailed accreditation application as well as a multiple-day onsite inspection by a team of independent experts from other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums around the country.
“It means a great deal that we are recognized by our peers on many aspects of animal care and welfare including Florida’s endangered species and animals of Africa, among others. Our education programs are also recognized as exceptional,” said Craig Pugh, CEO of the Zoo. “With the 2014 completion of our new veterinary hospital, we are now turning attention to developing a conservation center to further collaboration among industry and science-based organizations.”
In recent years,the Zoo’s board of trustees has raised more than $7 million through the New Horizon Campaign for development of the Jacarlene Foundation Animal Care Campus comprising the veterinary hospital (opened 2014), nutrition center (opened 2014), animal holding and conservation center (under development).
“On behalf of the Zoo’s volunteer board of trustees, I’m exceptionally proud that our Zoo is a nationally recognized leader in the care and conservation of wildlife,” said Bob Rasmussen, chair of the Zoo’s board of trustees. “This is an organization with a clear sense of direction and the fiscal responsibility needed to achieve its long range plans.”
In addition to completion of Jacarlene Foundation Animal Care Campus, Zoo leadership is focusing on renovations and improvements to the only non-profit hospital in the world specifically dedicated to care and rehabilitation of critically sick, injured and orphaned Florida manatees. The manatee hospital has operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1991, serving more than 370 wild manatees.
Curt Harbsmeier, Zoo trustee and associate member of AZA since 2003, was a volunteer representative on behalf of the board of trustees at the AZA mid-year meeting. Harbsmeier said, “What makes the Zoo strong is its broad base of public private support. AZA accreditation confirms that the Zoo meets or exceeds the industry’s highest standards.”
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo was first granted accreditation in 1989. It is anticipated that an AZA executive will travel to Tampa to present a plaque commemorating this significant achievement in the near term.