AZA Accreditation

Cosley Zoo is proud to be an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Membership is reserved for an elite group of zoos and aquariums located around the country.

AZA Accreditation News Release : March 23, 2011

Contact: Sue Wahlgren, Cosley Zoo, 630.665.5534 or
Margie Wilhelmi, Cosley Zoo, 630.510.4984

Cosley Zoo receives AZA Accreditation Plaque
at Wheaton Park District Board Meeting

Wheaton, IL— On March 16, Association of Zoos and Aquariums Executive Director, Kris Vehrs presented Sue Wahlgren, Cosley Zoo Director with the official AZA accreditation plaque at the Wheaton Park District board meeting.

In attendance was Art Pape, President of the Cosley Foundation, Mike Benard, Executive Director of the Wheaton Park District, Tawnia Zollinger, DVM of Animal Medical Clinic and zoo staff.

Cosley Zoo was once again granted accreditation by AZA Independent Accreditation Commission. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association. This is the third time that Cosley Zoo has received accreditation. To be accredited, Cosley Zoo underwent a thorough investigation to ensure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety.

"Cosley Zoo staff works incredibly hard to provide a top-quality facility for both the animals and our visitors. We are extremely proud to be recognized as one of the zoos and aquariums that have been accredited by AZA, an honor achieved by only 8.5% of licensed animal exhibitors." quoted Sue Wahlgren, Cosley Zoo Director.

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspection team prepares an extensive written report for the Accreditation Commission. Finally, top zoo officials are interviewed at a formal Commission hearing, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission's decision is made.

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit

Please contact Sue Wahlgren, Director of Cosley Zoo at 630.665.5534 for more information regarding the Accreditation process or upcoming events and programming at Cosley Zoo.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does a zoo become accredited?
The accreditation process consists of a detailed review and inspection covering all aspects of an institution's operation including the animal collection, veterinary care, physical facilities, safety, security, finance, staff, governing authority, support organization, involvement in education, conservation, and research, and adherence to AZA policies.

When did Cosley Zoo receive its accreditation?
Cosley Zoo was first accredited in 2000 and has maintained accreditation since then. Accreditation occurs every five years and is a requirement for zoos and aquariums to be members of AZA.

How many zoos and aquariums are accredited?
Of approximately 2,800 USDA licensed wildlife exhibitors, only 213 have achieved AZA accreditation. That makes Cosley Zoo in the top 7% of USDA licensed wildlife exhibitors!

How can I get more information about AZA?
Click here for more AZA information.

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Cosley Zoo must maintain strict standards to retain membership in the AZA.

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