Denver Zoo names museum exec its new CEO

Polar bears at Denver Zoo (Photo: Mark Harden | Colorado Politics)

The Denver Zoo has received a humane certification from the leading animal welfare organization that is also behind the “no animals were harmed” verification in films.

“We believe all animals, including those being cared for in our zoos, aquariums and conservation parks, are entitled to humane treatment,” said Robin Ganzert, the president and CEO of the American Humane Association. “The Humane Certified seal lets zoo and aquarium visitors rest easy in the knowledge that their favorite animals are getting good care and that endangered species we all want to preserve will exist for generations to come.”

American Humane’s scientific advisory committee includes veterinarians and academics, and its certification procedure includes direct observation of zoo animals and any abnormal behaviors that they display in captivity. The checklist also encompasses food and air quality for the animals and the training that handlers receive.

An organization will automatically fail if the committee notes willful animal abuse, the lack of an appropriate health or medical care plan for animals, and unacceptable staff conduct.

American Humane estimates that 10% of the world’s population visits a zoo each year. The group notes that skepticism of institutions in general, particularly among millennials, drives the need for third-party certification of humane practices.

“The very first zoos provided barren environments for the animals,” American Humane reports. “Many larger animals were kept in concrete enclosures with bars and little environmental enrichment. In these earlier generations of zoos, the focus was on the satisfaction of visitors.”

Brian Aucone, Denver Zoo’s senior vice president, said that the certification “provides yet another way for us to measure how we care for the amazing wildlife that call Denver Zoo home and serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts.”

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