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Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Topeka Zoo accreditation in danger

September 8, 2001

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— In the third blow to Kansas and Missouri zoos in less than a week, a professional group says it will not renew the accreditation of the Topeka Zoo when it expires at the end of the month.

The Topeka Zoo announced Thursday that it plans to appeal the decision, the zoo's acting director said.

One day earlier, the Silver Spring, Md.-based American Zoo and Aquarium Assn., meeting this week in St. Louis, asked the Topeka Zoo to submit a new application for accreditation in March. If the zoo does not appeal the ruling, it would be without accreditation until a decision is made on its renewal application.

Accreditation affects a group's ability to exchange animals with other zoos and work with endangered species.

Jane Ballentine, a spokeswoman with the American Zoo and Aquarium Assn., said the Topeka Zoo would remain accredited through the appeal process.

The same day Topeka officials received news that its accreditation would not be renewed, the zoo association gave the Kansas City Zoo six months to improve finances and staffing and upgrade a dilapidated orangutan exhibit.

In not renewing the Topeka Zoo's accreditation, the professional group said that the zoo had not had a director in place for the recommended six months and that some of the information in their application was outdated, Ballentine said.

The Topeka Zoo's accreditation has been tabled since last September after accreditation officials raised concerns about elephant management and staffing.

Coker said those issues have been corrected.

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