By Dave Sigworth, publicist of The Maritime Aquarium
Some really good news for The Maritime Aquarium today has me thinking about one of my favorite movies: the Coen brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
In the film, which is set in the 1930s, George Clooney is an escaped prisoner trying to get back home to stop his ex-wife from remarrying. People keep telling him that her new suitor is “bona fide” and that he is not.
Clooney, of course, knows that he is … well, bona fide. He just has to prove it.
We at The Maritime Aquarium have always known we are bona fide. And now we have proved it. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) this week awarded its prestigious seal of approval – accreditation – to The Maritime Aquarium, which affirms that we meet the highest standards for animal care and visitor safety.
It’s a pretty big deal. Of 2,795 animal exhibitors in North America licensed by the USDA, only 222 – or fewer than 8 percent – are currently accredited by the AZA.
In a statement, Jim Maddy, the AZA’s president and CEO, said, “The Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredits only those zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards. As a proven leader in the care and conservation of wildlife and education outreach, The Maritime Aquarium is ranked among the best zoos and aquariums in the world.”
“This is a watershed moment for The Maritime Aquarium, one to which the entire staff contributed,” said Jennifer Herring, president of The Maritime Aquarium. “Every department worked hard to document to the AZA that our operations and procedures meet the standards of a premier, accredited facility.”
This is the first time the Aquarium has applied for AZA accreditation. The process involved a thorough documentation to ensure that we meet – and will continue to meet – ever-rising standards for animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.
Aside from now being able to tell people we are certifiably bona fide, AZA accreditation offers the Aquarium other advantages. These include: easier means for potential exchange of animals with other accredited institutions; access to extensive conservation and animal-husbandry resources that can benefit our animal care and education programs; shared expertise between staff of accredited facilities; and discounted cooperative purchasing programs.
If you’re a Maritime Aquarium visitor, AZA accreditation lets you know you’re supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for guests, and a better future for all living things.
We hope you’ve known all along that we are bona fide. But it’s exciting now to have the AZA say it’s so.