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Loss of accreditation demands reliable funding for Honolulu Zoo

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Loss of accreditation demands reliable funding for Honolulu Zoo

Photo credit: Celine Isabelle Arnobit

Photo credit: Celine Isabelle Arnobit

Photo credit: Celine Isabelle Arnobit

Photo credit: Celine Isabelle Arnobit

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The Honolulu Zoo has lost its accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) because of inconsistent funding.

The zoo must be supported by the government through regular funding. Every major city has a creditable zoo.  

The AZA accredits over 200 zoos all over the country, including the National Zoo in Washington, and “evaluates zoos and aquariums to make sure they meet standards for animal management and care, including living environments, social groupings, health, nutrition, and enrichment,” according to Pacific Business News.

The AZA insisted that maintenance and animal care were not factors in the loss of accreditation and praised the zoo in these areas.

The lost accreditation limits but does not completely cut off the zoo’s ability to breed and borrow animals from other places. Currently, the Honolulu Zoo does not have to send the animals to another facility or return the 90 or so animals on loan from other zoos. Officials are deciding the next best step for each individual animal.

Previous warnings about the lack of funding had been made.

The AZA warned the zoo in prior inspections that the lack of funding was an issue that could result in loss of accreditation. Manuel Mollinedo, former zoo director, also publicly stated the same after his resignation.

The previous operating budget was $5.6 million with 76 employee positions. Mayor Kirk Caldwell now proposes a budget of $6.8 million and 86 positions, six of which will be animal keeper positions.  

The zoo will reapply for accreditation after addressing the funds issue and after the one-year waiting period.

The loss of accreditation mainly affects the Honolulu Zoo staff as employees are no longer permitted to attend educational or professional development programs hosted by the AZA.

Funding for the zoo must be consistent, increased and continued as the longstanding lack of consistent funds was the main factor in losing the accreditation.

As one of the biggest tourist cities in the world, Honolulu is arguably incomplete without a zoo. Without proper and consistent funding by the government, the Honolulu Zoo cannot gain back its accreditation or thrive as an educational, recreational site for tourists and residents alike.

Celine Isabelle Arnobit, Features Editor, Reporter

Celine Isabelle Arnobit is a third-year Ka Leo reporter and a junior at the Academy. In her free time, she enjoys painting, writing, swimming, hiking,...

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Loss of accreditation demands reliable funding for Honolulu Zoo