Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2001

National group refuses to accredit Topeka Zoo

March 25, 2001

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— An organization that sets professional standards for zoos has refused to restore accreditation of the Topeka Zoo because of concern about staffing and animal care.

The American Zoo and Aquarium Assn. had tabled the zoo's accreditation last September. Zoos have a year to address the association's concerns, but Topeka asked for a re-hearing after six months.

If a zoo has not addressed concerns after a year, it probably will be stripped of its accreditation, said association spokeswoman Jane Ballentine. The association's concerns last September centered on the zoo's elephants. The zoo lacked staff with appropriate training to work with those animals, the association said.

Ruth Maus, a spokeswoman for the Topeka Zoo, said the accreditation remained tabled because of concerns about staff turnover. Five of the 12 zookeepers have quit in the last six weeks.

The commission also was "gravely concerned" by the way the animals were kept. Association guidelines say females and young males should not be kept alone on a long-term basis. Topeka's elephants have been without others of their own kind for 25 years.

The city asserted Friday that the concern about the animals being alone had been dropped.

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