12:06 PM

ZooAmerica Granted Accreditation by AZA Accreditation Commission

One of Only 7 Facilities in Pennsylvania to Earn Prestigious Designation

ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, an 11-acre, walk-through zoo in Hershey, Pa., that cares for more than 200 animals representing species from five regions of North America, today announced it was again granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission. The first year that the Zoo received accreditation was 1982. 

The AZA requires zoos and aquariums to undergo an extensive review and inspection every five years to remain accredited. ZooAmerica is one of 22 zoos and aquariums accredited during the most recent review cycle. According to AZA, five were denied, including four longstanding members and one new applicant. Each facility underwent a thorough review to make sure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which emphasize animal welfare and care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety.

“The communities where these 22 zoos and aquariums are located should be proud their local aquarium, zoo or nature center is among the best zoological facilities in the world,” said AZA President and CEO, Dan Ashe. “The process to receive AZA accreditation is rigorous, and continues to include ever-increasing standards to ensure that the animals’ best interests are always first and foremost. We are excited and proud to have these top-notch zoos and aquariums as AZA members.”

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous, on-site, multiple-day inspection by an independent team of trained zoological professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the facility’s operation, including animal welfare and well-being; veterinary care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; financial stability; risk management; governance; and guest services. Detailed reports from the inspection team and the facility alike are then thoroughly evaluated by the Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed by the Accreditation Commission at a formal hearing, after which accreditation is granted, extended for one year, or denied.

Fewer than 10% of all zoos and aquariums in the world meet the standards to earn accreditation from the AZA. Only seven facilities in Pennsylvania, including ZooAmerica have earned the prestigious destination.

Visit This Winter

ZooAmerica is open daily year-round (except Thanksgiving and Christmas). Hours vary by season. Winter is a great time to visit the zoo as many of the North American animals in the outdoor habitats are more active when the temperature drops.

New this winter is the return of Wild Winter Adventure, a three-hour program held at ZooAmerica on December 18, 19, 27, 28, 29, and 30, 2021, that is both fun and educational. Morning sessions will run 8:30 – 11:30 AM and afternoon sessions will run 1:00 – 4:00 PM. During the program, children in grades K through 5 will learn about the amazing survival skills that animals use in the cold winter months. Children will watch the North American animals explore their winter habitats, get up-close and personal with live animal encounters, participate in an enrichment activity, make a craft, and enjoy a snack. Plus, they will also take a walk into Hersheypark and visit the reindeer. All children must be preregistered and prepaid to participate. 

Admission to ZooAmerica is included with a Hersheypark ticket only by accessing the zoo through the Hersheypark bridge during posted park hours; hours vary. Separate paid admission is also available at the zoo’s off-street entrance. ZooAmerica Annual Pass Holders and Hersheypark Season Pass Holders are free.