Category Logo


April 29, 2015

April 29, 2015

For more information, contact:
Tina Rolen, Knoxville Zoo
[email protected]

Natalie Lester, Moxley Carmichael
[email protected]


The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has announced that the Knoxville Zoo was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

Kris Vehrs, AZA executive director, right, presented Lisa New, Knoxville Zoo executive director, with an AZA accreditation plaque.

Kris Vehrs, AZA executive director, right, presented Lisa New, Knoxville Zoo executive director, with an AZA accreditation plaque.

To be accredited, the Knoxville Zoo underwent a thorough review to ensure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care, 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 Knoxville Zoo has been an accredited zoo continually since 1984.  Fewer than 10% of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are AZA accredited.

“This is a standard that our entire staff takes very seriously and works hard to maintain on a daily basis,” said Lisa New, executive director of Knoxville Zoo.  “We’re very proud that the Accreditation Commission recognized our accomplishments and the catalyst our new strategic plan is for an era of tremendous growth for Knoxville Zoo.  Just as important is the pride our community can take in knowing they have one of the top zoos in the country right here in Knoxville.”

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation, including animal care; keeper training; safety for visitors; staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas.  Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied.

“By meeting the highest standards, the Knoxville Zoo is regarded as among the best zoos and aquariums in the world,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “When people visit Knoxville Zoo, they can be assured that they are supporting a facility that is a leader in the care and conservation of wildlife.”

AZA Executive Director Kris Vehrs came to Knoxville for an official presentation recognizing Knoxville Zoo’s accreditation.  “Accreditation by the AZA is a publicly recognized badge signifying excellence in, and commitment to, animal care, conservation and education.” said Ms. Vehrs.  “When people choose to visit an AZA-accredited zoo like Knoxville Zoo, they are supporting the highest professional standards across the board.”

About the Knoxville Zoo

Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville’s most-visited destination.  Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331 or visit

About American Association of Zoos and Aquariums

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 seven 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