The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has rejected the Honolulu Zoo’s request for re-accreditation.

City officials recently met with AZA executive members, and were told their application was denied due to concerns about consistent funding from the city and private partners.

The city must wait one year to re-apply.

Students wait in line to get into the Honolulu Zoo. The zoo's request to become accredited was denied.
Students wait in line to get into the Honolulu Zoo. The zoo’s request to become accredited was denied. Flickr

“The AZA made it clear they are pleased with the direction of the Honolulu Zoo, including the work done on deferred maintenance and the care of animals,” the city said in a news release Tuesday.

“Maintenance and animal care did not factor into the decision to deny re-accreditation,” the release says. “However, the AZA is concerned the city has not provided adequate funding to the zoo on a consistent basis. This item had been highlighted in previous inspections and the AZA determined that it has not been adequately addressed.

The city team that traveled to Omaha to talk to AZA executives was comprised of Honolulu Zoo Director Baird Fleming, Assistant Zoo Director Linda Santos and Managing Director Roy Amemiya. Fleming said in the release that his staff will continue to apply all AZA standards and best practices at the zoo going forward.

Before Fleming took over in 2015, four zoo directors had resigned in five years. There have been concerns in recent years about the size of the elephant enclosure, a chimpanzee’s escape, exotic birds gone missing, among other issues.

There was talk last year in the Legislature of prohibiting the display or performance of wild or exotic animals for commercial purposes. Exceptions were carved out for accredited zoos, but the Honolulu Zoo, which was accredited at the time, testified against the measure over fears of what would happen if it lost its accreditation. The bill died in the House.

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