Yukon Wildlife Preserve seeks zoo accreditation

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve is being inspected this week by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums in hopes of getting national accreditation.

The wildlife preserve near Whitehorse has 10 species of northern Canadian mammals in their natural environment. Spanning several kilometres, the site welcomes visitors from all over the world. It's been running as a non-profit for seven years.

Getting national accreditation means meeting specific, detailed criteria, and the wildlife preserve has already made some upgrades in anticipation of the inspection such as an internal bumper rail to separate big animals from the general fence. But meeting all the standards could take time; there are only 27 official sites accredited in Canada.

“It is very unusual for a facility to gain full accreditation upon their first inspection,” said John Morran, a member of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums who is part of the team conducting the inspection.

“We're looking at their history, at all aspects of this facility, although our primary focus is on animal welfare issues, how they deal with diseases, any animal issues.”

Greg Meredith, executive director of the wildlife preserve, said accreditation is a high standard to aim for.

“The society thought if we can strive to be that good and that professional then we know we're going in the right direction,” he said.

Meredith said the society hopes accreditation will also help attract funding from various foundations.

A decision will be made this fall.

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