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  • Gpz Team 3

    Zoo staff care for newborn bongo.

Zoo Earns AZA Accreditation

The Great Plains Zoo (GPZ) is proud to announce that it has achieved accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). AZA accreditation is among the most prestigious achievements in the zoo industry, with fewer than 10 percent of attractions earning the distinction. The AZA requires facilities to complete its rigorous accreditation process every five years as a condition of membership. Great Plains Zoo has maintained accreditation since 1991. 


“I am both inspired and proud of our team and their dedication for excellence at our zoo,” said GPZ President & CEO Becky Dewitz. “Accreditation standards continuously evolve to ensure we are achieving the highest standard for animal wellbeing. Each day, our team works hard to ensure the animals are provided with high quality and enriching care for their overall wellness. We strive to provide a valuable zoo experience for our guests, which is where we can ultimately achieve our mission to promote appreciation of the natural world, wildlife education, and conservation awareness to save wild species and spaces from extinction.”   


The AZA accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site, multi-day inspection by an independent team of expert zoological professionals. Each facility up for accreditation undergoes a thorough review to make sure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which emphasize animal wellbeing, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. Detailed reports from the inspection team and the facility alike are then thoroughly evaluated by the Accreditation Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed by the Commission at a formal hearing, after which accreditation is fully granted, provisionally granted for one year, or denied.  


“Congratulations to the Great Plains Zoo for meeting this gold standard for a modern zoological facility for the 31st year in a row,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. “This accreditation speaks to the team’s dedication in providing an incredible zoo experience for residents and visitors to our community. We also appreciate the continued partnership between the City and zoo in providing this beloved attraction that is visited by more than 250,000 people each year.”


There are currently 238 AZA-accredited facilities and 15 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and 12 other countries. 

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.