AAHA Awards First Zoo Hospital Accreditation

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo earns a unique distinction, courtesy of the American Animal Hospital Association.

A male Queensland koala receives a health assessment at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Fla.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

None of the nearly 3,500 veterinary practices accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association is at a zoo. Until now.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in Florida became the first of its kind today when AAHA announced that the 63-acre park’s veterinary hospital earned AAHA accreditation.

The honor means that the 16-month-old hospital met 900 standards ranging from how the medical staff tends to sick animals to how the veterinarians and veterinary technicians perform in areas such as pain management, surgery and dental care.

“We’re proud to have the hospital at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo join the ranks of our accredited practices and become the first AAHA-accredited zoo in the United States and Canada,” said AAHA’s CEO, Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, Dipl. ABVP. “This is a big step forward for veterinary medicine. Regardless of whether your patient has hooves, wings, shells or scales, the AAHA Standards of Accreditation raise the level of care that patient receives.”

The news came on the same day that another achievement was announced: the zoo’s five-year reaccreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Lowry Park Zoo’s lead veterinarian, Ray Ball, DVM, said he had AAHA accreditation in his sights “for a long time.”

“These animals may not be companion animals, but they deserve the same standard of care as patients at small animal practices,” Dr. Ball said.

The 7,000-square-foot hospital is part of the emerging Jacarlene Foundation Animal Care Campus. A nutrition facility opened in 2014, and under development is an animal holding and conservation center.

The zoo also operates the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital, which provides critical care for injured, sick or orphaned wild manatees.

Lowry Park Zoo employs three veterinarians—Ball, Ashley Barratclough, DVM, and Nicolas Maldonado, DVM—and three certified veterinary technicians: Heather Henry, Michelle Devlin and Ryan O’Shea.

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