Zoos SA
Zoos SA is a non-government conservation charity, every visit, adoption, donation and ticket helps to save species from extinction.

ZAA Accreditation matters – the what, why and how we got it!

We’re going to say it. ZAA Accreditation matters. After all, how can you tell what is a good zoo? One that prioritises animal welfare above all else?

A quick and simple way is to look for the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) accreditation tick which you’ll find proudly displayed on the Zoos SA, Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park website pages.

What are modern zoos and how do you know if you’re visiting a ‘good’ one?

The role of the modern zoo has changed enormously over the years. Whereas once they existed to entertain and amuse, zoos and safari parks like Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park are local and global conservation agencies. But while we know what goes on in front of and behind the scenes, we understand that our members and visitors may not or, they might feel that they want to know more. We, therefore, encourage all visitors to any zoo or aquarium facility to check that it has been accredited by the relevant association. Zoos SA’s sites are accredited by the Zoo and Aquarium Association, Australasia (ZAA), commonly referred to as the ZAA.

ZAA surveyed the Australian and New Zealand public and learned that:

69% said that animal welfare in zoos is something they worry about at least a little and 15% were very concerned.


70% feel more comfortable about visiting a zoo knowing it’s been accredited for positive animal welfare.

Why seek ZAA Accreditation when you don’t need to?

All zoos and aquariums in Australia need only meet minimum regulations set by local state governments to operate. However, these may not take into account many of the principles that zoos, vets, scientists and wildlife experts know are the most important when it comes to animal welfare.

As science has advanced, a better understanding of an animal’s welfare needs and the ways to assess these have also developed. The Five Domains Model is the guiding method behind ZAA Accreditation and the one that all good zoos including both Zoos South Australia sites apply to animals.

ZAA Accreditation is shown in the form of a logo

What is the Five Domains Model?

The Five Domains Model of animal welfare is a contemporary welfare framework for animal welfare assessment in zoos. The Five Domains (nutrition, environment, health, behavior and mental state) represent areas of potential welfare compromise and, conversely, areas where welfare can be enhanced.

The first four domains are largely physical or functional. Sensory inputs from these physical domains provide experiences for the fifth (mental). Zoos SA has adopted the Five Domain Model in its everyday and applies this to all species at Zoos SA from the largest to the smallest and from the furriest to the scaliest.

The domains are largely designed to address the needs of exhibited captive animals but also address welfare associated with field research and conservation program activities.

By adopting the Five Domains we ensure that the care we give to the species cared for by Zoos SA is consistently putting animals’ welfare first.

How does the Five Domain Model fit with ZAA accreditation?

Red Panda, Adelaide Zoo

The ZAA accreditation process assesses members’ commitment and achievements toward positive animal welfare measuring against the Five Domains Model. It requires those being accredited to think, prove and display the welfare of the animals in their care and strive for continuous improvement. Members must provide compelling evidence for set criteria on both their operations and the experiences of their animals. This is reviewed by ZAA before one of the expert Accreditation Officers visits the site in-person to validate the findings.

Accreditation reports must be sent to the Standards and Accreditation Committee and approvals endorsed by the ZAA Board before accreditation is granted.

ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums must be assessed every three years to retain their accreditation status. International members are assessed yearly.

Additional to championing welfare from the animal’s perspective, ZAA accreditation also assesses an organisation’s conservation impact, sustainability, biosecurity and safety.

Zoos SA’s accreditation – 2022

Zoos South Australia is proud to say that it retained its ZAA Accreditation for Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park in 2022. This accreditation is a testament to the staff at Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park, and their consistently high standard of care for the species on site and also in the field.

As a conservation charity, saving species from extinction is at the core of what we do

Zoos SA manages world-renowned breeding and conservation programs at Adelaide Zoo, Monarto Safari Park, and in the wild.

Our efforts have spanned the globe as well as locally here in South Australia and include captive breeding, habitat restoration, research, conservation education, fundraising, wildlife disease management and caring for injured wildlife.

Our conservation successes speak for themselves

Zoos SA has bred more than 15 species for re-release into the wild in SA, nationally and internationally, including, Greater Bilbies, Western Swamp Tortoises, Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies, Orange-bellied Parrots, Regent Honeyeaters, Red-tailed Phascogales, Mitchell’s Hopping Mice, Stick-nest Rats, and the Przewalski’s Horse.

We are one of a very small number of zoos to have brought a species back from extinction in the wild, re-establishing a wild population of South Australian Mainland Tammar Wallabies at Innes National Park in the Yorke Peninsula after they were classified as extinct in the 1930s.

Tasmanian Devil, Adelaide Zoo

In a world-first for conservation, Monarto Safari Park successfully bred 14 Pygmy Blue-tongue Lizards, a species once thought to be extinct and never before bred in captivity.

We have played a pivotal role in providing expertise and monitoring of the release of the Brush-tailed Bettong into Marna Banggara; an ambitious project to return locally-extinct species and reinvigorate the ecological processes that ensure the bushland’s health.

We fund community education programs in Sierra Leone to protect wild Chimpanzees from the threat of illegal hunting.

In Northern Kenya, we support programs providing local women with alternate livelihoods to reduce hunting of endangered animals like rhinos, elephants and cheetah.

We fund conservation projects that directly benefit Komodo Dragon, giraffe, and Southern White and Black Rhinos in the wild. And that’s to name just a few.

Your visit to Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park (really) matters

Giraffe herd, Monarto Safari Park

Here at Zoos SA, our mission is to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. We believe these two actions are mutually dependent on each other.

When a person has the opportunity to see or engage with an animal, they develop a greater relationship with and understanding of that animal and in turn are more likely to take action to help with the conservation of their wild cousins. Knowing that the species you are seeing or learning about is experiencing the best in welfare can also encourage people to learn more about looking after species in their own care.

Good zoos exist to secure the future for animals from around the world – big or small, fluffy or scaly-and it’s with the support of passionate people like you that we are able to continue our vital work.

ZAA Accreditation matters.

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging. We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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