Turtle Back Zoo receives third consecutive 5-year accreditation from AZA

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Essex County Turtle Back Zoo has earned accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ independent Accreditation Commission, according to a recent press release. Accreditation recognizes an institution’s commitment to providing quality animal care, education programs and promoting conservation. AZA made the announcement during its annual convention on Wednesday, Sept. 7, in San Diego, Calif.

This is the third consecutive five-year accreditation that Turtle Back has received. It became an accredited facility for the first time in its history in 2006 and the accreditation was renewed in 2011.

“We have been committed to making Turtle Back Zoo a modern, first-class facility that is safe for the animals and an exciting place for people of all ages to visit,” Turtle Back Zoo Director Brint Spencer said in the release. “Earning AZA accreditation for a third time is a tremendous accomplishment and is an indication of the high quality of care we give to our animals and the dedication of our keepers, staff and volunteers.”

“Maintaining accreditation is very important because it demonstrates to our visitors our commitment to providing the highest level of care and safety for our animals,” county Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said in the release. “I want to thank zoo Director Brint Spencer, the zoo staff, and our volunteer docents and Zoological Society members for working hard every day to maintain the high standards set by AZA so that our visitors can have an enjoyable and memorable visit.”

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 in areas such as animal care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas. The inspection team prepares an extensive written report for AZA’s independent qccreditation commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal commission hearing, after which accreditation is granted, tabled or denied. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the association.

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.