Good zoos won’t force their animals to be on exhibit all the time. Instead, they give the animals a choice to escape the noise and have some time to themselves where they won’t be disturbed.
The last indicator is something you can check on without even stepping foot in a zoo. Simply head to the zoo’s website, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and verify if they have an accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
“The AZA and the World Association (WZA) are amazing organizations that put zoos, when zoos ask for it, through a really rigorous inspection process,” said Diana.
The organizations have incredibly high standards for how each animal species should be cared for. They have booklets called Animal Care Manuals that provide specifications on animal care and management.
The manuals are built by experts and are available online so you can get a glimpse of the standards that zoos must adhere to.
“They’ll say exactly how much square footage you need for the enclosure, but not only that, they’ll say how much square footage you need as far as, like, foliage coverage, shade, exactly how much square footage a jaguar needs on an elevated surface, how much enrichment they get,” explained Diana.
In addition, zoos accredited by the AZA must educate the public about their animals, participate in species survival plans, work with other zoos to establish some type of breeding program, and actively assist animals living in the wild through donations or fundraising efforts.
So if a zoo is on the AZA list, you should definitely support it!
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