A group of African penguins hanging out in their habitat at the National Aviary. (Photo courtesy National Aviary)
A group of African penguins hanging out in their habitat at the National Aviary. (Photo courtesy National Aviary)

Early today, the president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Jim Maddy, announced that the National Aviary on Pittsburgh’s Northside received accreditation from the organization.

The association is a nonprofit organization that works to ensure animals and fish in zoos and aquariums are treated well and that zoos provide a good educational and fun experience to visitors while working on important issues, like conservation.

Aviary spokesperson Laura Ellis said in an e-mail that the Aviary has been accredited for 25 years.  Organizations must re-apply for accreditation every five years, Ellis said, and the standards become stricter and stricter with each re-application.

“We are delighted that our efforts to continuously grow and improve our facility and our programs have earned us this important recognition,” said National Aviary Executive Director Patrick Mangus in a press release. “We have a dedicated professional staff that is always looking for ways to enhance the health and well-being of our birds, and to provide an ever changing, dynamic experience for our visitors.”

The Aviary also participates in the association’s Species Survival Plan, which works toward maintaining threatened and endangered species and bringing them off the endangered list.  One of the Species Survival Plan programs the Aviary takes part in is with African Penguins, and it hopes that its first African Penguin chick will be born within the next year, according to a press release.

The accreditation process for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums includes an application, an on-site inspection and interviews with the top officials of the organization seeking accreditation.  The inspection team looks at all areas and aspects of the zoo, including animal care, keeper training, visitor safety, educational programs, conservation efforts, veterinary programs, financial stability and others.