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Brandywine Zoo Awarded Re-Accreditation by Association of Zoos and Aquariums

 The Brandywine Zoo was recently re-accredited after a rigorous review process by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Recent upgrades by DNREC, staff efforts and the support of the Delaware Zoological Society (DZS) were contributing factors in this significant feat. Pictured, from left to right, are the Brandywine Zoo’s curator of conservation education Lauren Barczak, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens, Brandywine Zoo Director Brint Spencer and DZS Executive Director Mark Shafer.


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is proud to announce the re-accreditation of the Brandywine Zoo by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission after a detailed review process that analyzed all aspects of the facility’s operation. The accreditation was awarded at the 2022 Conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums held in Baltimore.

AZA accreditation assures the Brandywine Zoo meets or exceeds professional standards and is a continued mark of excellence for the zoo, which has been AZA-accredited zoo since 1986. Delaware’s only AZA-accredited zoo is a member among 237 other accredited facilities and 15 certified related facilities throughout the U.S. and 12 other countries.

The Brandywine Zoo must undergo rigorous inspections, examinations and reporting every five years to maintain accreditation as a condition of AZA membership. The review process includes animal welfare and well-being; veterinary care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff, and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; financial stability; risk management; governance; and guest services.

“We are proud of our Brandywine Zoo, a gem in the heart of Wilmington, and all it offers to the local community and those who travel to see the exotic and endangered animals. Recent upgrades we have made at the zoo and our upcoming plans have only increased its caliber and this accreditation is well deserved,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “I commend our staff and the Delaware Zoological Society for their work to ensure Brandywine Zoo remains a top-notch facility to connect people with and care for its rare animals.”

This accreditation also increases eligibility for funding and grants from certain foundations, corporations and other sources; permits participation in Animal Exchange – access to specimens from other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums for loan and/or breeding; and allows the Brandywine Zoo to participate in the AZA’s flagship Animal Conservation Program, the Species Survival Plan.

The Brandywine Zoo has changed since its last accreditation review six years ago. In 2018, DNREC unveiled the 117-year-old zoo’s Master Plan, which includes a number of upgrades with a focus on animal welfare, overall guest experience, the zoo’s mission as a conservation institution, building positive momentum and meeting or exceeding AZA standards. Phases I and II of the Master Plan are complete and include:

  • An Animal Care Center that further strengthens care of animals at the zoo and provides ongoing veterinary care
  • New animal habitats to house black and white ruffed, ring-tailed and crowned lemurs, all endangered species endemic to the Island of Madagascar; southern pudu, the second smallest deer; friendly goats such as the Nigerian dwarf, African pygmy and angora; and an Andean condor viewing area that provides close-up encounters with one of the world’s largest flying birds
  • An improved Honey Bee Display with interactive and attractive play elements, graphics and oversized metal flowers
  • Increased ADA accessibility and a variety of other behind-the-scenes and public-area facility updates

Phase III includes a dramatic new entryway that will include new ticketing and security areas along with a new multi-species exhibit to include head-turning Chilean Flamingos. For other elements of the Brandywine Zoo’s Master Plan or to contribute to the DZS “Our Zoo Re-imagined” capital fundraising campaign, go to

AZA has been the primary accrediting body for zoos and aquariums for more than 40 years. U.S. agencies such as OSHA and the USDA consider AZA standards as the “national” standard, and refer to AZA standards when evaluating institutions.

“The public expectations for animal care are constantly increasing, as are our own, which is why AZA’s accreditation standards are focused on providing the best animal care possible,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “Our rigorous accreditation standards evolve based on modern animal research, ensuring a process the public can trust. We applaud and admire these exceptional zoos, aquariums and related facilities on meeting the ‘gold standard’ for a modern zoological facility.”

The Brandywine Zoo features animals from the tropical and temperate areas of North and South America, Asia and Africa and provides numerous learning experiences, conservation projects, community outreach programs and special events for all ages throughout the year. The zoo is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Christmas.

The Brandywine Zoo is managed by the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation with support by its non-profit partner, the Delaware Zoological Society.


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, or Michael Globetti,