CUMBERLAND, Ohio (WCMH) — As Columbus’ zoo remains without the coveted accreditation from the American Zoological Association, a wildlife and safari park that it manages 90 minutes away has earned it.
The Wilds, a 10,000-acre Cumberland conservation center that is managed by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, was granted full accreditation by the AZA, a nationally recognized “best practices” honor, this week, the nonprofit said in a Friday news release.
“I’m incredibly proud of the entire Wilds team for earning this accomplishment,” Vice President Dr. Joe Smith said in a statement. “The AZA has continuously accredited The Wilds since 1996, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to be a facility that combines cutting-edge conservation science and education programs with unique guest opportunities.”
In becoming accredited, The Wilds said it will join 240 other facilities across the U.S. that received a stamp of approval for its “best practices,” animal care and wellbeing, veterinary medicine, conservation education, research and safety after undergoing a “thorough review” by the AZA.
The Wilds’ parent company, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, was stripped of its 40-year accreditation in October 2021 following a year of scandals that plagued the zoo and its leadership, according to past NBC4 reporting.
Two former executives resigned amid allegations that they misused zoo property for personal profit, and longtime zoo director was accused of improper ties to the big cat trade industry.
Although the Columbus Zoo lost its appeal to become re-accredited in December 2021, it received a different accreditation from the Zoological Association of America in June. The zoo can reapply for AZA accreditation beginning this month.