Wahpeton zoo loses national accreditation

It had been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1995.

Wahpeton zoo loses national accreditation
Hobbes, a Bengal tiger at Wahpeton, N.D.'s Chahinkapa Zoo, died in March 2020.

WAHPETON — The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has stripped the Chahinkapa Zoo of its national accreditation.

It was first accredited in 1995 and has been reaccredited every 5 years since then.

The AZA independent Accreditation Commission said after a detailed application and a meticulous on-site, multi-day inspection by an independent team of trained zoological professionals, they decided not to renew the zoo's accreditation.

According to the commission, the inspecting team observes all aspects of the facility’s operation, including animal welfare and well-being, veterinary care, keeper training, educational programs, conservation efforts, financial stability, risk management, governance, guest services and safety for visitors, staff, and animals.


A detail report of why the zoo failed was not immediately available.

Leaders at the Chahinkapa Zoo can appeal the ruling, but the AZA said appeals are rarely successful.

The earliest they can get back in good standing is in 2023.

“We wish all these facilities well, and hope they will reapply for accreditation when they are ready and eligible," said AZA President and CEO, Dan Ashe.

There are currently 242 AZA-accredited facilities and 14 AZA-certified related facility members throughout the U.S. and in 12 other countries.

Related Topics: WAHPETON
Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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