The Columbus Zoo, once home base for television wildlife expert “Jungle Jack” Hanna, has lost a key accreditation. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) stripped the zoo of its accreditation. The AZA acted because of reports of mishandled funds and other charges levelled against former officials including Hanna.
In better news for the zoo, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums recently accredited the zoo. The AMMPA is an international accreditation body, specializing in marine parks. The new accreditation is part of the zoos effort to regain status. Accreditation was granted after a two-day inspection.
The AZA stripped the zoo of its accreditation due to alleged financial irregularities. About $650,000 in funds may have been mishandled, leading to the departure of the management team in place at the time. There were also questions about Hanna’s alleged use of animals from unaccredited institutions in television appearances. A new management team has replaced the old and changes have been made. The zoo has cut ties with some of the organizations allegedly supplying animals in violation AZA guidelines.
the accreditation was yanked last year, but the zoo operated with a provisional accreditation while appealing the decision.The appeal was denied and the zoo must wait until summer to reapply. Accreditors are waiting to see proof the changes made can be sustained
Hanna has retired and severed all ties with the zoo. His family has announced the popular television figure is suffering from dementia and no longer takes a public role. On its website the zoo recognizes Hanna’s role in bringing the zoo to national prominence.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a non-profit zoo located on 400 acres near Powell, Ohio close to Columbus. The zoo traces its roots back to 1905 but did not obtain national prominence until Jack Hanna became director in 1978. He held that post until 1993 and became director emeritus that year, maintaining that role for more than a decade.
Hanna’s frequent television appearances on Late Night With David Letterman, Good Morning America and other shows brought the zoo into prominence. Critics allege he violated AZA guidelines in securing the animals used in his appearances.