WNC Nature Center earns accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Asheville red pandas
The WNC Nature Center is home to more than 60 species of animals, including two red pandas, Leafa and Phoenix.


The WNC Nature Center is excited to announce that they have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Fewer than 10% of all zoos and aquariums in the world meet the standards to earn accreditation from the AZA and the WNC Nature Center is one of only eight facilities in North Carolina to earn this designation.


To earn AZA accreditation, zoos must meet rigorous standards in animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, safety and other areas. In addition to a very lengthy written application, the AZA also requires an intense multiple-day on-site inspection and an in-person hearing in front of the Accreditation Commission. AZA member institutions are required to repeat the entire accreditation process every five years to assure that they are upholding the continuously evolving standards, incorporating best modern zoological practices in animal welfare and management, and embracing modern AZA philosophies. The WNC Nature Center has been accredited since 1999.


“The standards for accreditation are higher than they have ever been. We are proud that we continue to improve each and every year to meet these demands,” said WNC Nature Center Director Chris Gentile.


Asheville’s 42-acre WNC Nature Center, 75 Gashes Creek Road, is home to more than 60 species of animals, including river otters, black bears, red and gray wolves and a cougar. Its mission is to connect people with the animals and plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountain region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advancing conservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.  The Nature Center is proud to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  For more information about the WNC Nature Center or for tickets, visit wildwnc.org. or call 828-259-8080.


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