The Aquarium of Niagara has earned accreditation by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), an international accrediting body for zoos and aquariums that display marine mammals. It is currently home to 10 marine mammals, all of which have been rescued and/or deemed nonreleasable by the U.S. government: five California sea lions, two grey seals and three harbor seals. Accreditation by AMMPA affirms these animals are receiving the highest level of care as determined by industry standards.
“As we continue to make capital improvements to enhance the guest experience, it’s important to recognize that animal welfare is at the center of all aquarium operations,” President and CEO Gary Siddall said. “As an institution, we embrace the ever-modernizing standards pertaining to animal management, and this accreditation validates those efforts and places the Aquarium of Niagara among an elite group of zoological facilities that have demonstrated this excellent care.”
To earn AMMPA accreditation, facilities must go through a two-year process that culminates in an onsite inspection by a team of marine mammal professionals that evaluates all aspects of the facility’s operations to ensure they meet AMMPA’s rigorous accreditation standards and guidelines. AMMPA standards cover nearly a dozen different areas – including animal health and wellness, applied animal behavior and training, water and environmental quality, public education, scientific research and conservation, population sustainability, and transportation. Based on the expertise of thousands of veterinarians, animal care specialists, operations personnel and scientists throughout the world – and reflecting many years of hands-on experience – AMMPA standards exist to optimize the physical health of and environmental conditions for individual marine mammals in each facility’s care and maximize their educational and scientific impact.
“The AMMPA community represents the greatest body of professional expertise and knowledge about marine mammal care and veterinary medicine in the world,” said Kathleen Dezio, AMMPA president and CEO. “When visitors to an aquarium, marine park or zoo see that a facility has earned AMMPA accreditation, they can be assured that it meets the highest standards of animal care and welfare and that it is dedicated to public education and the conservation of marine animals in the wild.”
The AMMPA accreditation is a notable milestone for the Aquarium of Niagara and builds upon the organization’s other recent achievements. In 2018, it received accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold-standard in the zoological field. The organization also completed more than $10 million in capital improvements from 2018-21, including the $3.6 million renovation of its penguin exhibit, the addition of the “Aliens of the Sea” jellyfish exhibit, and the “M&T Bank Shark & Ray Bay” touch pool.
This summer, the Aquarium of Niagara will complete a $250,000 plaza project that will create expanded opportunities for programming, connect it to the state park and newly created trails, forge a space for community gathering, and further inform the site’s sense of place along the Niagara Gorge.
For more information about the Aquarium of Niagara, visit www.aquariumofniagara.org.