By Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2020

HONOLULU (AP) - The Honolulu Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums after years of efforts to recapture the designation.

The zoo announced Wednesday that the facility has sought to renew its accreditation since 2016, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The association represents more than 230 facilities in the U.S. and abroad, according to its website.

The Honolulu Zoo, operated by the city’s Department Enterprise Services, submitted an application in September in the hope of winning approval in four years.

The zoo underwent a review by the association’s accreditation commission to ensure it met standards in categories including animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety.

“AZA accreditation signifies Honolulu Zoo’s active role in protecting our world’s wild animals and wild places while providing exceptional animal care and meaningful guest experiences,” association President and CEO Dan Ashe said in a statement.

The association requires zoos and aquariums to complete the accreditation process every five years to maintain membership, which is considered a mark of recognition by a group of animal and conservation experts.

The accreditation also gives zoos access to breeding programs, resources and conferences.

“The Honolulu Zoo is truly a leader in the zoological profession, and I am proud to have them among our members,” Ashe said.

Honolulu Zoo Director Linda Santos cited the work of zoo staff, city and county agencies and support organizations.

“Everyone’s coordinated efforts were critical in achieving AZA accreditation and I am very proud of their teamwork,” Santos said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with the AZA, once again, to expand our role in conservation efforts.”

The zoo is closed, along with Honolulu parks, in response to the coronavirus pandemic and officials do not know when the facility will reopen.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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