Following an on-site visit in May and a follow-up accreditation hearing at its national meeting, Association of Zoos & Aquariums awarded a new five-year stamp of approval to Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

This certification judges the local facility to be providing a high degree of animal care, a strong commitment to conservation and scientific research, a staff that engages visitors well at a carefully maintained grounds.

“AZA standards are the most stringent in the world,” said Alan Varsik, Metro Parks Tacoma’s director of Zoological & Environmental Education, “so AZA accreditation places us among the very best zoos and aquariums.

Just 232 zoos and aquariums are accredited by AZA in the United States and eight other countries.