Rosamond Gifford Zoo Achieves Esteemed AZA Accreditation

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Silver Spring, Maryland (Sept. 24, 2018) – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has announced that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY, has been granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“Only the very best zoos and aquariums can meet AZA’s accreditation standards for animal care and conservation, which are universally acknowledged as the ‘gold-standard’ within the zoological profession,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “By achieving accreditation, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo demonstrates a commitment to protecting animals around the world and inspiring their guests to do the same.”

To be accredited, the zoo underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories including 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.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has been an accredited AZA member since 1987, achieving 30 years of continuous accreditation last year. The latest accreditation covers the next five years; the zoo will have to reapply and go through the process again in 2023.

“We are so proud of our animal care staff, our volunteers, our Onondaga County partners, our Cornell University Veterinary team and the Friends of the Zoo who helped us once again achieve this important accomplishment,” said Rosamond Gifford Zoo Director Ted Fox.

Janet Agostini, President and CEO of the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, said the Friends board has been devoted to helping the zoo meet and exceed AZA accreditation standards by backing projects like the $1.8 million elephant pool completed in 2015 that was fully funded by the Friends.

“I am grateful to the Friends board and supporters for their commitment to AZA accreditation as the seal of approval that sets our zoo apart as an important wildlife conservation center,” Agostini said.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said AZA accreditation has put the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on the map of conservation destinations in New York State. “Congratulations to the zoo and Friends staff for their hard work continuously maintaining the high standards that AZA accreditation requires.” Mahoney continued, “Onondaga County is lucky to have such a world class zoo right in our backyard.”

The AZA inspection team noted as particular strengths that:

  • “Animal areas of the zoo, both on-exhibit and off-exhibit, are immaculate and show exemplary housekeeping and cleanliness”
  • The zoo’s Collection Plan “is excellent and could serve as a model for that of similarly sized institutions,”
  • The relationship between the support organization, the Friends of the Zoo, and the County and Zoo Management is extremely cooperative and effective,” and
  • The grounds and plantings are beautiful and well-maintained, which is especially impressive considering that no full-time horticulture staff is presently employed at the zoo.

Zoo Director Fox said that last item reflects on the many hours of care given to zoo grounds by volunteer members of the Men’s and Women’s Garden Club of Syracuse as well as the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners program, with funding for landscaping provided by Friends of the Zoo.


About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit


About Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Founded in 1914, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is among the top 10 percent of zoos in the country as an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to connecting people to the natural world by providing engaging guest experiences, exceptional animal care, and unparalleled conservation education. Once just a small 4-acre facility, the zoo is now home to approximately 700 animals on 43 acres. Continuous improvements to the zoo's infrastructure and animal exhibits ensure that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo will remain a treasured institution in Central New York.

For more information about the zoo, visit To learn about zoo events, visit



Post Date

Oct 4th 2018