It's not automatic...it's earned!
The Brandywine Zoo is accredited through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a network of more than 200+ committed zoo and aquariums. This accreditation is much more than just an affiliation.
In order to earn accreditation, zoos must meet standards for animal care, including exhibit design, husbandry, enrichment, nutrition and health. Additionally, they must support species conservation programs and offer public education programs. Zoos must reapply for accreditation every 5 years.
Our Zoo does more than entertain and educate. We help endangered species survive, reproduce and return to their natural habitats.
Every AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium is a leader in wildlife conservation, participating in a long-term plan that involves habitat preservation, public education, field conservation, genetically diverse breeding and supportive research to ensure survival for many threatened and endangered species. The Brandywine Zoo has its own programs that support these goals.
The Brandywine Zoo exhibits many Species Survival Plan (SSP) animals, Population Management Plan (PMP) animals and other endangered species. These species are ambassadors of their conservation programs to help us disseminate the conservation information to our visitors. They may be exhibit animals for a variety of reasons such as age, health related reasons, social reasons, exhibit size, or they may be from a family of animals heavily represented by another family member such as a brother or sister in another facilities' breeding program. Or, they may be part of a breeding program as recommended by their SSP or PMP for optimum genetic diversity.
Species Survival Plan
The Species Survival Plan (SSP) was developed in 1981 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure the survival of selected threatened species by placing them in zoos and aquariums. SSP programs are cooperative population management and conservation programs for select species in zoos and aquariums in North America. SSPs were developed to manage animal populations for zoos in order to maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations that are both genetically diverse and demographically stable. The mission of the program is to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species into the future and to provide a link between zoo and aquarium animals and the conservation of their wild counterparts (Andean Condor SSP, 2014).
Zoos breed animals for a number of reasons.
Breeding populations in AZA accredited zoos are managed by studbook keepers. Careful consideration is made when breeding recommendations are made to avoid inbreeding and overpopulation. Animals without breeding recommendations that are living in mixed gender social groups may receive birth control in order to prevent indiscriminate breeding.
- To sustain viable populations of animals within zoos for exhibition
- To maintain genetic diversity for populations of threatened and endangered animals
- In some cases, breeding takes place with rare species with the goals of eventual reintroduction into the wild
Even individuals who are living at Brandywine Zoo but are not currently recommended for breeding can participate in SSP breeding programs simply by alleviating space at larger breeding facilities.