May 2, 2019

Fossil Rim Earns Prestigious AZA Accreditation

Silver Spring, Maryland (April 2019) – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has announced that Fossil Rim Wildlife Center was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“Less than 10 percent of animal facilities registered with USDA have achieved AZA accreditation, so Fossil Rim is truly a leader in the profession,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “AZA accreditation signifies Fossil Rim Wildlife Center’s active role in protecting our world’s wild animals and wild places while providing exemplary animal care and meaningful guest experiences.”

Fossil Rim Executive Director Kelley Snodgrass and Executive Coordinator Kristen Hannah are shown with the 2019 certificate of AZA accreditation. Fossil Rim has been an accredited AZA member since 1986.

To be accredited, Fossil Rim underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the association.

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous onsite inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation, including animal care and welfare; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and more.

Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied.  Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.

Fossil Rim Executive Coordinator Kristen Hannah is shown with the first certificate of accreditation received from AZA in 1986, as well as the 2019 certificate of accreditation. Hannah spent a year working on the accreditation application and months making sure that Fossil Rim was prepared for all facets of the inspection.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center has been an accredited AZA member since 1986.

“Through partnerships, alliances, and memberships with organizations such as the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the collective Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (FRWC) community continues to deepen and broaden how we serve and share our conservation mission,” said FRWC Executive Director Kelley Snodgrass. “We are proud to again receive AZA accreditation and especially proud regarding the accreditation report’s acknowledgement of commitment to that mission by FRWC staff, volunteers, and board.”

Snodgrass pointed out that FRWC Executive Coordinator Kristen Hannah invested a lot of hard work to make sure every detail of the accreditation process was addressed.

“Although many FRWC staff members contributed in creating our AZA accreditation application, special recognition goes to Kristen Hannah,” he said. “Kristen started organizing and assembling the application packet, which is more than 1,000 pages upon completion, one year prior to submission.”

With so much personally invested in the process, Hannah was understandably very pleased upon hearing accreditation had been granted.

“We spent a year working on the accreditation application and months preparing for the inspection, and my role was to coordinate the process and blend the various contributions to the application,” Hannah said. “It was a lot of hard work, but it is rewarding to see the finished product and know our team’s efforts were fruitful.”

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit


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  • Knowing and loving Fossil Rim as I do, it was with great pride in hearing of Kristen Hannah’s ability in compiling that tome of statistics. I’m sure that Kelley was proud for her, as well as, Fossil Rim. The AZA’s SSP programs are of the utmost importance, especially in this day and age of eco-collapse. During my time of affiliation with Fossil Rim I learned about these very important programs that are the last bastion of salvation for many of the world’s imperiled species. From the Mexican wolves that live on the Mogollon Rim, to the Red wolves that thrive in St Vincent wildlife refuge, Fossil Rim has played their part. Congratulations, and continued good works.

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