Turtle Back Zoo earns first-ever ZAA accreditation

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Turtle Back Zoo has earned accreditation for the first time from the Zoological Association of America. The five-year accreditation was awarded Monday, April 3, and is good through 2022. The ZAA is the second zoological organization to accredit Turtle Back Zoo; the facility has received accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums three times. Its first five-year AZA accreditation came in 2006.

“We have transformed Turtle Back Zoo into a resource for recreation, education and conservation. Being an accredited facility ensures the public that our animals are well-cared for, our exhibits meet the highest standards and our overall facility is well-managed,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said in a press release. “To be accredited by two independent agencies is a great achievement and I commend our zoo staff, volunteer docents and Zoological Society for working tirelessly so that Turtle Back Zoo meets the highest standards.”

ZAA accreditation is a multi-phase process and establishes an extremely high bar with respect to professional standards and best management practices. The accreditation process usually takes up to one year to complete and reaccreditation is required every five years. ZAA-accredited zoos are required to go through an in-depth application and review process, which includes on-site inspections by a team of experts from around the country. Animal care and husbandry, veterinary care, nutrition, enrichment, security and safety, facility aesthetics and maintenance, record keeping, and a thorough review of policies, procedures and protocols are considered during the accreditation process.

The zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 973-731-5800 or visit www.essexcountynj.org/turtlebackzoo.