AZA Accreditation

Virginia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). AZA, “accreditation” means official recognition and approval of a zoo or aquarium by a group of experts from across the country who carefully inspect each zoo or aquarium that applies for AZA membership. Only those zoos and aquariums that meet their high standards become members of the AZA. Fewer than 10% of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited!

The review and inspection process covers all aspects of an institution’s operation, including the veterinary care; physical facilities; safety; security; finance; staff; management; involvement in education, conservation, and research; and adherence to AZA policies. Accreditation takes place every five years and is required for zoos and aquariums to be members of AZA. The Virginia Zoo received its most recent accreditation in 2018 and is accredited until 2023.

AZA accreditation provides a number of advantages to member zoos, including increased eligibility for grants; impartial evaluation on a periodic basis by professional colleagues; invaluable opportunities for staff to learn from other institutions; increased ability to attract and retain a high quality, profession staff; access to specimens from other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums for loan or breeding; and participation in the Species Survival Plan, AZA’s flagship animal conservation program.

Founded in 1924, the AZA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit