IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) gave a prestigious award to the Idaho Falls Zoo, recognizing its efforts in animal care and welfare for the last 25 years.
The Idaho Falls Zoo joined the AZA in 1998. It was the first zoo in the state to receive such accreditation.
"Of the 2,500 or so organizations that are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture to show animals to the public, less than 10%, less than 240 of them meet the highest standards that are represented by accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. So it's a really big deal. The Idaho Falls Zoo is extremely proud," Idaho Falls Zoo executive director David Pennock said.
The award recognizes the zoo's commitment to maintaining the highest standards in animal care, welfare, management, veterinary care, conservation, education, staffing, facilities, safety, guest services and more.
"When we say that all zoo is the best little zoo in the west, we're not kidding. We really are. We really are a high quality institution that people can be proud of, supporting. And one last thing that not only means that the Idaho Falls Zoo functions well and takes care of its animals, it means that the Idaho Falls Zoo is investing in and supporting conservation of the world's wildlife out in their native habitats," Pennock said.
Pennock says in order to continue to be accredited by the AZA, the zoo has to go through the accreditation process every five years. The standards also change year to year. He says not much will change at the zoo now they got the award.
"I would say it is business as usual, but that business as usual is changing every year to be the very best we can be all the time. That's the thinking that we have here at the zoo, and always have had for 25 years," Pennock said.
The Idaho Falls Zoo prides itself on its dedication to taking care of the animals whether they are in their care or in the wild. Visitors who come to the zoo say that dedication is visible all over the zoo.
"We love coming here and they'll do like little information, things with the animals. One time we even got to feel like a lion's mane. And so, you know, they're doing like lots of education. And we can definitely tell they're taking very good care of the animals, we love this little zoo," visitor Stephanie Hawkins said.
"We went to the kids petting zoo and there was a zoo keeper that was, you know, making sure that everyone's doing their job and making sure that the animals are safe with the goats and everything. And we've seen a few zookeepers walking around and checking to make sure, you know, the animals and humans are obeying the rules," visitor Qaren Whitworth said.
The Idaho Falls Zoo will remain open for another couple of months, and in that time they invite everyone to come and see how they dedicate themselves to the animals in its care.