Loss of accreditation could spell disaster for Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo


Lions, tigers and bears, all gone?

There’s a good chance these animals and more could disappear from Honolulu Zoo if something isn’t done and fast. That’s according to zoo officials who briefed the Honolulu City Council Tuesday on the status of the zoo.

“If we lose accreditation now, we have to wait five years before we have to reapply again,” said veterinarian and assistant zoo director Baird Fleming.

Fleming says recent hurdles, like constant changes in management, have put a serious strain on zoo operations. He says they’re working hard to keep their status under the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“They go out and inspect every single aspect of your institution,” Fleming told council members.

A team of inspectors will scrutinize every inch of the zoo, from the amount of parking stalls to conservation efforts, visitor experience and governing authority.

The zoo has already been “tabled” twice, which means the facility was one step away from losing accreditation.

“We’re on the right track. It is kind of slow, but that’s just how things are. With the way things are going on now, by the time AZA accreditation comes around, we should be in good shape,” said Fleming.

Losing status under the AZA means the zoo could lose 90 animals currently on loan from other mainland zoos.

The zoo does not buy animals, but instead are traded with other AZA institutions.

“It would be sad. It’s part of all of the kids’ childhood. They love seeing the animals,” said Christina Yuen, a Pearl City resident who took her son, Issac, to the zoo for his birthday.

“If we lose accreditation, it could be a disaster for the zoo,” said Honolulu City Council member Kymberly Pine. “We’d lose our animals and possibly close, because why would people visit the zoo if we don’t have animals there? It really is important we make this accreditation and I know administration and staff are dedicated to making this very short deadline they’re on.”

The next accreditation check is in fall 2015.

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