POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) – Central Ohio residents who support the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium with their tax dollars are hoping the zoo is able to get its AZA accreditation back.
Franklin County residents pay a levy that goes toward the care of the animals and facility maintenance of the zoo.
“My family has been going to the zoo since, I don’t know, since the 90s when my kids, my kids were a young age and now I’ve got grandkids,” said resident Todd Lee.
Many consider it the crown jewel of Columbus, but now the zoo no longer has its Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation, something Lee said surprised him.
“If it’s important in terms of getting funding or breeding or helping the organization, it’s probably really important to get it back,” he said.
Being recognized by AZA allows the zoo to have national recognition, helps increase funding, and allows participation in species survival plans and animal exchanges for breeding.
“I mean, it’s a staple of any, like, large city,” said resident Kees Burklow. “San Diego zoo, we all know about, Monterey aquarium, it’s a staple of being a giant, growing city.”
Franklin County residents approved a levy in 2015, helping fund maintenance and animal care at the zoo. According to the zoo, the levy provides it with approximately $18 million a year.
“As long as they can correct the things they lost, if for as long as they are doing the right things to get back on track,” Burklow said.
Lee also hopes the zoo doesn’t lose valuable funding.
“I’m sure they have sponsors, and they get donations, but, you know, any income that can come in with that would be a tremendous help,” he said.
The zoo has 30 days to appeal its accreditation status, which it plans to do, according to a statement.