The Aquarium of Niagara has received accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This recognizes its commitment to the highest standards in animal care, education, conservation and guest experience.
Less than 10 percent of zoos and aquariums are accredited, and the Aquarium of Niagara was the only first-time applicant to be accredited in the current cycle.
To be accredited, a facility undergoes an in-depth, meticulous, multi-day review conducted by an inspection team made up of highly trained zoo and aquarium professionals.
The successful March opening of "Penguin Coast," the $3.3 million Humboldt penguin exhibit, was the final piece needed to complete the application for accreditation.
"We have worked strategically towards the goal of attaining accreditation from AZA for several years," Executive Director Gary Siddall said. "With the success surrounding our recent accomplishments, it is incredibly rewarding to achieve such an important distinction among other accredited institutions."
The aquarium also achieved another milestone this year and set a new attendance record, which remained unbroken since 1970. It welcomed more than 300,000 visitors, and surpassed the projected 10 percent increase predicted for 2018.
"We couldn't be more delighted to welcome so many guests this year," said Richard Torcasio, board president. "It shows that the aquarium is changing for the better and guests are noticing and enjoying the improvements."
This past May, the aquarium announced the groundbreaking of "Aliens of the Sea," a brand-new jellyfish exhibit opening in early 2019 presented by KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation. This is the first time jellyfish will be added to the aquarium's collection. The exhibit will feature multiple species of jellyfish.
"We are thrilled with the significant efforts recently put forth by the Aquarium of Niagara to improve the overall quality of their visitor experience," said John Percy, president/CEO of Destination Niagara USA. "Accreditation from the highly sought-after Association of Zoos and Aquariums is further evidence that their dedication and passion is being recognized not just by leaders in their industry, but with visitors, as well. Breaking a nearly 50-year visitation record is incredibly exciting and mirrors the tourism growth we have been seeing across Niagara Falls, USA for several years.
"Congratulations to the Aquarium of Niagara on these tremendous achievements!"