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Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Receives AZA Accreditation


Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has been granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s (AZA) Accreditation Commission. “Only the very best zoos and aquariums in the country can meet the tough AZA accreditation standards, ” said Joe Choromanski, Ripley’s VP of Husbandry. “The leadership and staff of our aquarium are to be congratulated for the hard work and commitment that they put into the accreditation process.”

To be accredited, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies underwent a thorough investigation to ensure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.

AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process in order to become members of the association and are required to resubmit to this process every five years. This is the second accreditation for Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. “We must start from the beginning each time and meet all standards, ” explained Choromanski.

 “Not only does our facility meet and exceed AZA’s high standards, but it provides every visitor with a chance to connect to global wildlife conservation, ” Choromanski said. “Each member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums shares a strong commitment to animal care, professionalism, ethics, conservation, and education. We all take great pride on how we can enrich the lives of our communities by developing significant wildlife education and conservation programs.”

Choromanski adds that Ripley Aquariums always rate high with industry experts in the areas of water quality and animal health. “They also speak highly of our diversity of animals, the quality of our temporary exhibits and the entertainment and educational value of our interactive attractions and activities.”
The mission of the AZA Accreditation Commission is to establish, uphold, and raise the highest zoological and aquarium industry standards through self-evaluation, on-site inspection, and peer review.  The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals.

keeper training, safety for animals, staff, and visitors, educational programs, conservation efforts, veterinary programs, financial stability, risk management, visitor services, and other areas.  The inspection team prepares an extensive written report for the Accreditation Commission.   Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal Commission hearing, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied.  Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation in areas such as animal care (including living environment and daily enrichment), the Commission’s decision is made.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is located at traffic light #5 on the Parkway in Gatlinburg and is open 365 days a year. For further information call 888-240-1358 or go to

About Ripley Aquariums
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies( in Gatlinburg, Tenn. and its sister attraction Ripley’s Aquarium ( of Myrtle Beach, S.C., are both AZA accredited and together have educated and entertained more than 20 million visitors. They are part of the Ripley Entertainment family of worldwide entertainment facilities. More than 13 million people visit Ripley’s 60-plus attractions in 11 countries each year.  Ripley Entertainment Inc. is a division of the Jim Pattison Group, the third largest privately held company in Canada.


Ripley Aquariums
Joe Choromanski
VP Husbandry
(407) 345-8010

Ripley Entertainment
Tim O’Brien
VP Communications
(615) 646-7465 – office
(615) 496-5949 – cell

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