Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Notice: The Zoo Will Close at 1 p.m. on Friday, August 2 to Prepare for Brew at the Zoo. Admission will end at noon.

The Significance of Accreditation

You often hear us talk about the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s status as an accredited member institution of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). But what does it mean to be AZA-accredited?

AZA accreditation means that our zoo is one of roughly 240 zoological institutions in North America that ethically and effectively maintain animal populations in pursuit of a collective conservation mission. There are numerous institutions throughout the continent that possess animals, but not all zoos are made equal. Accreditation from the AZA grants credibility to zoological institutions, denoting that their purpose is to preserve dwindling populations of threatened species and promote environmental education through research and public outreach. 

“The Rosamond Gifford Zoo, like its AZA partners, is entrusted with the critical responsibility of protecting and providing for the various species in our care,” Zoo Executive Director Ted Fox said. “Through conservation collaboration with our partners, we can carve out a future for vulnerable species around the planet.”


The member institutions of the AZA are committed to rebuilding animal populations and creating a future for all species. Beyond caring for hundreds of different species – many of whom are considered endangered in the wild – the Rosamond Gifford Zoo conducts extensive animal research, sharing its findings with our partner institutions. Among the various research projects to which our zoo has contributed, (including studies on honeybees, Humboldt penguins, red pandas, and snow leopards, to name a few), the zoo’s animal specialists are contributing vital research on Asian elephants as AZA-accredited institutions work together to create a vaccine for the deadly Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV). The research conducted at our zoo and others has the potential to help save wild animals from extinction.


Beyond crucial research contributions, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo participates in Species Survival Plans (SSPs), safeguarding the populations of some of the most endangered species on the planet. SSPs track the genetic information of animals in AZA institutions; by maintaining SSPs, the AZA can determine the valuable genetics of animals throughout North American zoos and make breeding recommendations in the hopes of rebuilding populations with healthy, genetically complex individuals.

The zoo proudly cares for critically endangered species like the red wolf and endangered species like the Amur tiger, as well as the Panamanian golden frog (a species now considered to be extinct in the wild). The red wolf is another species that once went extinct in the wild, but thanks to the maintenance of a red wolf population in human care, this species has since been reintroduced to its habitat. The Zoo helps to raise awareness about these amazing species connecting guests to conservation initiatives.


AZA-accreditation denotes that the animals entrusted to an institution are treated humanely, and are not being bred for profit nor for trade. Like our partner institutions, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is committed to providing the best possible care for our animals. The zoo's animal specialists consistently monitor the welfare of animals both on and off exhibit. Creating choices for animals, (such as the choice to be off exhibit), is an important component of each animal’s mental well-being, stimulating their minds and protecting them from unwanted stressors.

Dedicated personnel maintain thorough observation of the species in their care, ensuring the animals are in good health. Through steady stewardship, the animal care team catches changes in animal health or behavior early on, swiftly responding to any irregularities. The state-of-the-art Animal Health Center allows the zoo's veterinary team to conduct regular health assessments, annual physical examinations, perform necessary surgical procedures, and administer applicable vaccinations. Providing exceptional animal welfare, both physical and mental, is the animal care team's greatest priority.


Inspiring people to care about nature is another focus of our zoo. While AZA zoos perform all the aforementioned conservation work, a critical focus of these institutions is promoting a connection between humans and nature. By empowering guests through education, our zoo and our partners have the potential to create a more conservation-minded world, where humans consider their role in preserving our shared world. Through accurate and frequently updated signage, educational classes and experiences, and
consistent digital engagement, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo conveys our work, and that of our partners, to our community – encouraging
consideration and action for our environment.

“Maintaining our zoo is more than just caring for our animals,” Friends of the Zoo Executive Director Carrie Large said. “Our consistent accreditation from the AZA speaks to the vital conservation contributions, research, and education that our institution proudly performs. Friends of the Zoo are proud to partner with Onondaga County to help educate the community, connecting people to animals."

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