Tulsa Zoo Keeps Its Accreditation, But With Conditions

Monday, October 18th 2010, 2:06 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, Oklahoma – The Tulsa Zoo has kept its accreditation, but only under certain conditions from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Commission.

According to a letter from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Tulsa Zoo remains an accredited institution, but must address concerns recently highlighted by the Accreditation Commission.

Read the Association of Zoos & Aquariums letter

Tulsa Zoo Director Terrie Correll appeared before the Commission in Houston last month to detail its progress and current state. The Commission sent a notification to the zoo after the hearing, requiring the zoo to provide quarterly progress reports and conduct follow-up inspections before next year's hearing, when the AZA will reevaluate the zoo's accreditation status.

AZA inspection teams conducted a review of the Tulsa Zoo in February in response to the death of a Amira. The giraffe died from hypothermia during the extreme cold last winter.

The report, released in May, revealed 11 major concerns and 17 lesser concerns.  Among the concerns was the giraffe barn, including inadequate air circulation in the barn to move warm air from the ceiling to the floor.

Overall, however, the report found the "animal collection well cared for and healthy."

5/7/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Zoo Inspection Lists Safety Concerns, Need For Repairs

Zoo officials said Monday the zoo has addressed many items highlighted in the report, like improvements to the giraffe barn. The zoo is in the process of being privatized.

8/13/2010 Related Story: Former Tulsa Fire Chief Named As Tulsa Zoo Transition Coordinator

"We have made great strides with the privatization efforts," said Terrie Correll, zoo director. "The AZA recognizes that the Tulsa Zoo is a good zoo and has great potential, but needs to address some important issues."

Zoo officials said the next step in the privatization process will be finalizing contract negotiations between Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc., which will manage the zoo, and the City of Tulsa.

"This report from the AZA underscores the need and the benefits of a public-private structure," said TZMI Board President, Phil Lakin, Jr. "The Board is working very closely with the City to ensure that our Tulsa Zoo is set up for short- and long-term success."

There have been two previous efforts to privatize the zoo, but neither materialized.

In the letter to Tulsa Zoo Director Terrie Correll, Accreditation Commission Chairman Bruce Bohmke said the Commission decided to table the zoo's accreditation.  The letter states that the zoo remains an accredited institution, but tabling is a notification that the Commission has concerns about it.  Bohmke's letter says tabling means the Commission has determined that certain conditions or requirements of accreditation are not being met.

Bohmke goes on to say "that the Accreditation Commission commends you and your staff for the progress made thus far, and we are further encouraged by what you have personally accomplished in the relatively short time you've been at the zoo."

Correll will have to submit quarterly reports on the zoo's progress, beginning on December 1st, 2010.  The zoo will also have to submit to another inspection by the Commission before its next hearing in September, 2011.