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Honolulu Zoo loses accreditation

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The Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki has lost its national accreditation, city officials announced today.

The Honolulu Zoo has lost its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the organization and the city announced today.

The denial of re-accreditation is considered a major setback for the Waikiki attraction and the city, which has been struggling to make improvements to stave off the loss of accreditation.

Loss of accreditation severely hurts the zoo’s reputation and hinders its ability to both breed and bring in exotic animals from elsewhere.

A panel of AZA executives met with Zoo Director Baird Fleming and a team from the zoo Monday in Omaha, Neb., to consider the application.

Shortly after its meeting with Honolulu officials, the AZA panel made its decision, citing lack of an adequate and consistent funding source, an issue the organization had previously highlighted in warning the zoo that it could lose accreditation.

The panel encouraged the Honolulu team to re-apply for accreditation when it addresses its funding situation, although AZA rules require a one-year waiting period before a facility can be eligible to re-apply.

The AZA acknowledged the city for positive steps, including work done on deferred maintenance and the care of animals, and neither appeared to be factors in the decision.

Traveling with Fleming to Omaha were Assistant Zoo Director Linda Santos and city Managing Director Roy Amemiya.

Fleming became the zoo’s fifth director in six years in February 2015. Manuel Mollinedo, one of the former directors, warned publicly following his resignation that a lack of commitment from the city threatened AZA accreditation.

The 42-acre zoo had an operating budget of $5.6 million and 76 employees in the budget year that ended June 30. For fiscal 2017, which begins July 1, Mayor Kirk Caldwell is proposing a $6.8 million operating budget and 86 employee positions. The new positions would include six new animal-keeper jobs.

98 responses to “Honolulu Zoo loses accreditation”

  1. Kukuinunu says:

    It is time to close the zoo.

    • inverse says:

      Yes, Kirk would love to close the zoo and sell the land so that a private developer can build another mega tower hotel with multi million dollar condos and time shares.

      • jasurace says:

        It’s part of the park. The city can’t sell the land.

        • FARKWARD says:

          NOT TRUE! With enough Council votes and the stroke of a pen on another BILL–it will be subdivided and sold to Wall Street Bankers and related Developers. Don’t think for one second local Construction Unions aren’t mapping-out their attacks on those lands. And, of course, the cry to the Public will be that since THE RAIL failed, and there are so many cost overrides–“we have to raise money from land sales, or raise taxes, dramatically. It’s coming! Maybe just three (3) years away. And what the citizens of Honolulu will have left are the Common-Areas of their pricey condominiums and Putting on their Astro-Turf Putting-Greens and swimming in their over-crowded Chlorinated swimming pools. And, The Children will only have tiny school play-grounds, Policed by Securitas, for their exercise.

        • localguy says:

          FARKWARD – Clearly someone didn’t get enough sleep last night, slept alone, cold coffee, what ever. Always seeing the dark side. Really sad.

          There is no way, and you know it, high rise condos will go up in Kapiolani Park. Not going to happen. Ever. Never.

          Get a grip, seek professional mental care. It is treatable. Do it now.

        • saywhatyouthink says:

          This is true, Kapiolani park and the land under the zoo were given to the city with strict conditions on use. The city couldn’t sell it but they could close the zoo and use the land for some other recreational purpose.

        • FARKWARD says:

          Obviously you have not been watching what is presently happening with Ala Moana Beach Park. It is being marketed as the playground for the new Kakaako Condominium Developments. And, just around the corner will Hughes, et al are controlling maritime leasehold lands. Then, it will be the new Condominium Owners who will demand control of Ala Moana Beach Park. And, do you honestly believe, for one-second the Local Politico’s won’t surrender control of the park? You apparently are a hit-and-miss reader making uneducated comments and apparently–totally oblivious. I have been related to these land studies for more than 45 years. Did you see the article written by Gomes several months ago regarding the City/County owned 10+ acres in Kailua that was appraised at $10M; and followed the following article a few weeks ago–where that same land was sold to one of “Kirk’s” constituent Developer buddies for $10M. Guys like Caldwell and Anderson kept their “Rolodexes” from all the land information they gleaned when they were employed by the City/County–and they know the exact timing. And, it’s a good thing to see “the dark side”, so you know when not to bend over… What about the High-Rise Condo-Hotel that’s going to be build contiguous to Fort DeRussey? That was not in earlier versions of City/County Zoning. Don’t be so naïve; open your eyes! Or are you just another PAID PROTAGANIST (Controlled Opposition) BTW–there is no known treatment for observing THE TRUTH.

      • justmyview371 says:

        One condo? We could build multiple condos. in the area. Let’s condemn Kapiolani Park too and sell Ala Moana Park to Hunt.

    • Cellodad says:

      Should we be a vibrant part of this Nation, or are we are truly just a backwater where folks come to lie on fake beaches? Perhaps we should be gateway to the Pacific. Should we be a pathway to education for folks from Idaho and Nebraska or should we just collapse and unite into our into Local-style xenophobia until w have no economy at all? Why can’t we be the place where people can come to learn what it means to b a part of the Pacific Islands? Why can’t we have zoological gardens that celebrate the miracle of population of Islands across the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean?

      Perhaps we could transform our Zoological gardens into a wonderful teaching opportunity. Or not.

      Just asking, as we say on social media.

    • allie says:

      I knew this was coming…

    • FARKWARD says:

      Closing THE ZOO would be a travesty. Then where would the City/County Council Members go to retire?

  2. pgkemp says:

    was just a matter of time, that zoo is pathetic….

    • bleedgreen says:

      The zoo is a wonderful place to visit. I’ve always enjoyed my visits there, but missing Rusty. Still, the African Safari is nice to see with the giraffes and other wild animals. Singapore has a nice zoo. And Honolulu should continue to improve its zoo like Singapore’s which is build like a natural habitat for its animals. The gibbon was awesome to see.

      • ukuleleblue says:

        What happened to the Raven that could say hi with a voice that sounds like a movie star?

      • aomohoa says:

        Singapore is just an amazing place…..

        • Racoon says:

          Singapore’s airport has been voted best in the world. Will need to check it out soon. Great shopping but expensive place to visit. Needs some super sky scraping towers like Petronas Towers in KL next door.

      • jasurace says:

        Rusty is still there, along with his mate! He’s in very spacious quarters, just to the right (Diamond Head) of where the old reptile house was located. It’s tucked behind the trees.

  3. Surfer_Dude says:

    Better take down that “nationally accredited” sign I see in the picture.

    • jojobear says:

      Instead of taking it down tell the truth to the tourists that this is a pretty messed up Zoo that lost it’s accreditation because the State was so worried about the rail that they didn’t have enough money to help the zoo out, why is it that the only now the Mayor is saying they are proposing which doesn’t really mean JACK since they have to pass the house to actually see that money, and where are we going to get that from, US, the Mayor will probably raise our taxes to give to the zoo, 6.8 million to help the Zoo (REALLY) where was the money when the Zoo actually needed it to maintain it’s accreditation in the first place, which really doesn’t mean a lot since the zoo will need another 6.8 million more to maintain the zoo if the AZA decides to give back the accreditation to the Honolulu Zoo,

  4. inverse says:

    The train to nowhere project is insidious in that it sucks money from ALL project both in City and State because the money is being taken from the SAME distressed taxpayer. The amount of money they spend on the zoo is chump change and adding 1 million should not be a problem for Oahu taxpayers to afford but because the rail project is so expensive that will get even MORE expensive, all non rail projects and service will suffer. 1 million that is desperately needed for the zoo is what HART pays just for rent of their offices. Never mind the 41 million for train tracks bought years ago. The Feds supposed 2 billion for the rail project does even covert the expected 10 BILLION final cost OR the added cost for maintenance and electricity and paying to build a new fossil fuel power station.

    • Masami says:

      Yeah, could never understand the logic of the FEDS dangling the “carrot” of $1.8 billion when the project will cost upwards of $10 billion+ and the sheeple getting fed the excuse about “losing” the $1.8 billion if we don’t continue the tax. Never mind that we can’t afford the $10 billion for a project which won’t affect traffic congestion.

      • allie says:

        agree..what a fiasco

        • DannoBoy says:

          And we haven’t even seen the funnest part yet. Buckle your seatbelts, rail chaos is about to be unleashed on downtown Honolulu. We all know it’s coming, and it’s going to be so Mufi-tastic, I just can’t wait!

    • Cellodad says:

      There are so many different songs to sing? Why do you have to sing the same one? Here’s one: We have a problem with waste disposal. Oh wait it must be because or rail and democrats and “Liberals” and all 9f those things who aren’t you, who have lived here for so long without facing it. It must be because of someone else. You Hypocrite. I came here in 1979 and you same folks were complaining about the same stuff. Give me a break.

      • Masami says:

        You’re right. I’m born and raised here and was taught that although we may have different viewpoints we should be respectful. Good day sir!

      • inverse says:

        Because only ONE song counts. All the others are secondary tunes that pale in comparison to the ONE pathetic song that is currently being sung by Kirk, HART and the rest; and sounds like fingernails scratching a chalkboard.

    • ALLU says:

      All I can say is that for those who voted for rail– you got it!

      • aomohoa says:

        NO one ever voted for rail, They voted for the possibility. I was against it from day one, not because I have anything against rail but because of the know incompetence and corruption that surrounds it. Of course, it doesn’t help that we don’t have the population to support the use of it or the money to maintain it.

    • justmyview371 says:

      The cost could be more than #10 billion once UH, Waikiki and other extensions are added.

  5. Racoon says:

    Ban the zoo. It’s just a prison. Create a Hawaiian Disneyland like Polynesian Cultural Center with shows and good ono food. Make it an all-day attrition right next door. Maybe even a Hawaiian themed hotel with museums, shops, night clubs, etc. Moving the aquarium there right at the lobby entrance or next to a restaurant is a good idea. Exotic bird park behind glass walls, too. Just copy Hilton Hawaiian Village. Lots of potentials. Everyone can see the zoo online or go to San Diego. Can you visualize having a premier hotel right in front of the Honolulu Marathon finishing line?

  6. butinski says:

    Do we really need a zoo? No. With our present day feelings and attitude against animals being forcible caged or fenced, I think many folks would welcome a closure of the zoo. If we don’t have the money to support a first class zoo like in San Diego, we should forget the idea.

  7. 808kela says:

    It’s time to let it go and send these animals to sanctuaries.

    • aomohoa says:

      No more jail for animals!

    • jasurace says:

      What sanctuary? Where? Who pays for that? Are you volunteering? Many of the animals are on loan from other zoos, we couldn’t if we wanted to. Most of the animals are captive bred, and can only survive in this environment. And certainly have no native habitat to go home to.

  8. JustBobF says:

    Sounds like the only problem is money. What a shame to lose accreditation over such a thing!

    Glad the mayor is asking for more money. The zoo is a great asset for the city!

  9. fairgame947 says:

    Love the Zoo. It’s an opportunity for children to see animals up close which they may never have again or elsewhere. With that they learn about animals and their care. It is totally the fault of the C&C to fund the zoo. It’s not that much money. DO not close and allow a condo project to go in it’s place. That would be CRIMINAL!

  10. seaborn says:

    Wow. Thousands of dollars spent flying “Zoo Director Baird Fleming and a team from the zoo” to Omaha, Nebraska just to tell them they lost accreditation. Could have easily, and cheaply been done over a video conference call, with the savings going toward the zoo. Why does everything have to be done “in person,” with all the readily available, and affordable, technology?

    • aomohoa says:

      Things aren’t done that way here are they? LOL They wanted their free luxury trip.

    • DannoBoy says:

      2.71 metric tons of CO2 were released from these three passengers taking an economy class direct flight, round-trip, from HNL to MIQ, and much more of they had to make connecting flights.

      Ironic that this effort, like so many others aimed at saving endangered creatures and the environment, has contributed to the destruction.

      What folly when free video conferencing is really available.

  11. ghstar says:

    Add the Zoo to the list of things Honolulu has that it doesn’t or can’t afford to properly maintain, like UH, Waikiki Beach,
    Aloha Stadium, the Natatorium, neighborhood parks, sewer system, the airport, trash pick up trucks . . . Does anyone seriously think that the rail will be maintained?

  12. agile says:

    This was never unexpected: “Fleming became the zoo’s fifth director in six years in February 2015. Manuel Mollinedo, one of the former directors, warned publicly following his resignation that a lack of commitment from the city threatened AZA accreditation.”

  13. what says:

    Waikiki needs more open park space.

  14. whs1966 says:

    Shut this rinky-dink operation down.

  15. Sunny says:

    Need the Zoo so you can experience being spit on by the chimpanzee!

  16. topgun says:

    This sucks nothing good can/will survive in the islands, always bad news.

  17. mtf1953 says:

    Shut it down and make a park out of it. Zoos are a relic of the past, especially places like the Honolulu Zoo. If people want to learn about animals, there are countless resources on the internet. If they want to see the animals, they will need to travel to their natural habitats. I know everyone can’t afford that, but we should stop mistreating animals so that kids can have a school field trip.

  18. MANDA says:

    The City Council focused on bogus “fixes” like allowing advertising in the Zoo while failing to fund it. They don’t give the Zoo its own parking lot and the Zoo doesn’t get revenues from its own parking lot. No wonder it’s in trouble.

  19. jasurace says:

    For all of you bagging on the zoo – the zoo is a treasure for Oahu. Any self-respecting city has one. Why? The only way these animals will survive is if humans choose to let them. Humans will, unchecked, consume every last bit of habitat and every resource on this planet. The natural world will survive only if people let it, and they will only do that if they care. And they will care about these animals if they have ever had the chance to see them, in real life, smells, sights, and all. Something abstract that lives on the other side of the earth will never matter to them. Chimpanzees, rhinos, all of these will be extinct in the next few decades. Explain to your grandchildren they will never see one. Or that we decided they weren’t important. Tough kid, I got to see these things, too bad for you. We can only leave you an impoverished world.

  20. berniel1 says:

    It all boils down to poor management of the city by the Mayor and City Council.

  21. bleedgreen says:

    That’s our city – spend millions upon millions to address the homeless situation, but fails to ensure the viability of the zoo which is a local and tourist attraction. Zoos, like the symphony, adds to the culture of its people. This is a failure of this mayor and city council.

  22. jasurace says:

    The zoo’s loss of accreditation is due to exactly one thing – being encumbered by an inefficient and meddlesome city bureaucracy. Important jobs are left unfilled, or are filled by volunteers. Improvements take years due to city job practices, graft, and corruption. Burdensome rules come down from the city out of fear of litigation, making it hard for the zoo to operate or raise independent funds. Staff are paid poorly, and it’s hard to get the best qualified people. It’s no wonder the previous directors all quit – when they saw what they were up against, they bailed. For many years Hawaii got by “island style” because we were substantially self-contained. That doesn’t cut it in the modern interconnected world. You can’t shrug when the accreditation agency asks for things to be done now in a timely fashion, saying you’re getting to it as fast as possible, but it could take a few years.

  23. wave1 says:

    Why not just raise some taxes like the GET, gas tax, or property tax to fund the zoo. Surely with all the tax increases we are seeing one small increment to cover the zoo won’t hurt us….

  24. Rossignols says:

    Is anyone concerned that HNL Zoo is in the flood zone? Heaven forbid we experience massive flooding that overwhelms the zoo. We will have invasive species loose in the islands..Forget the brown tree snakes on Guam.

  25. hoopono says:

    A committee including Fred Rolfing and Lt. Gov. Stan Tsutsui have proposed converting the Ala Wai Golf Course to nine holes, to build a stadium complex. Ala Wai G.C. is a “cash-cow” for the City, are they kidding?? Cet rid of Honolulu Zoo, and build their Stadium Complex there.

    • Jonathan_Patrick says:

      Hey u have a point. Of the three times I have visited the zoo, it didn’t seem to have the oooomph that a zoo such as The San Diego Zoo has. No effort made to keep it up to date. We know why. The the the the the the TheTrain.

    • ghstar says:

      Bad, very bad idea. Probably not legal either. Imagine stadium traffic on Kapahulu, Diamond Head road . . .

  26. justmyview371 says:

    The AZA must think they are the FTA, demanding an adequate and consistent revenue source. OK, what percent excise tax surcharge does the Zoo want? One percent, 2 percent? Maybe they want the transient accommodation tax.

  27. waimeabi says:

    close the zoo and house the homeless there!!

  28. iwanaknow says:

    Close the Honolulu Zoo and direct people to the Hilo Zoo?…..give them the business?

  29. jojobear says:

    Hawaii should look at all the other Zoos around the Nation and follow their leads and ask them how they were able to be so successful in maintaining their accreditation and be so popular with the tourists, I think our Mayor is thinking about that Frank Sinatra song and trying to follow what he is saying (I DID IT MY WAY), and he pretty much screwed up big time.

  30. Ronin006 says:

    Does the loss of accreditation mean the animals will lose the degrees they earned?

  31. Jonathan_Patrick says:

    TheRail rears its overbearing negative influence on the many other parts of the City’s Budget and this is only the tip of the iceberg. More and more services are going to see a downgrade, as the City ramps up it affair with TheRail. Only those not connected with TheRail can see this, and soon “the fall” portion of “The Rise and Fall of The Hannemann Empire” will come true.

    • FARKWARD says:

      “Panos” said: “The people won’t get it until THE RAIL gets to the HNL Airport.” Of course, given that he is Greek, has an accent, and is honest–no one would listen to him. Albeit, he is only an Internationally recognized and awarded Transportation expert.

      • Jonathan_Patrick says:

        People won’t get it? I think they got it as soon they broke ground on it. Soon everyone will hear the piles being driven into the ground near Bank of Hawaii in downtown and more complaints will surface. Just saying.

  32. Jonathan_Patrick says:

    It’s not instantaneous anymore, there is about a 60 second delay.

  33. Carang_da_buggahz says:

    Sad. I have many fond memories as a child going there after swimming at the Natatorium. Having a strawberry shave ice there was a really, REALLY big deal back then. The city really has to step up to the plate and turn the zoo around. We are only now paying for years of neglect.

  34. Jonathan_Patrick says:

    With the sands of time, priorities change and these are the “Days of Our Lives”. The local establishments such as Columbia Inn, Honolulu Stadium, Kenny’s Burgerhouse, Kenny’s Restaurant, Gibson’s, Wigwam’s, Atlas Building Materials and who knows, The Honolulu Zoo, soon to go by the wayside. The big box retailers starting with Costco in 1988, started the modernization of Oahu. The tried and true have remained though: McDonald’s, Longs and Zippy’s. The City had to know that with decreased funding, the accreditation would be at risk. It’s not the City’s fault. It’s just the general malaise that seems to have overtaken the Zoo. If this was The San Diego Zoo, the money would keep on rolling in. This is just “The Honolulu Zoo”. Walk through the Honolulu Zoo, and sometimes you wonder if you are in the wild with the animals, or if this really is a well maintained Zoo. It’s just the people’s fault in general. If the Honolulu Zoo really was an attraction, their admission prices would be higher and the stroll through the Zoo would be more enjoyable.

  35. Alohaguy96734 says:

    Another “win” for Caldwell and his crack team. Way to go!

  36. Jonathan_Patrick says:

    Bump up the budget to $10 million. If the money is not used, it can lay in state.

  37. saywhatyouthink says:

    Does anyone ever get held accountable in city or state employment? This is a big deal for zoo operations, heads should be rolling. I can guarantee you that would be the case if this zoo was a privately run enterprise. Caldwell is not doing his job, ultimately he is responsible for the failures of administrators he appoints. There’s no excuse, they were warned multiple times this could happen. If you were wondering why 6 directors in 5 years, now you know.

    • FARKWARD says:

      “Manuel Mollinedo” has been a friend for more than 40 years (we go way back in SFO). My First-Cousin had been his second in command at the SFO Zoo (she’s the person who handled the Tiger issues–with the two boys). There is much more to his story and his reasons for leaving the HNL ZOO; and those reasons all surround the malfeasances and corruption of City/County Government.

  38. GorillaSmith says:

    Hillary thanks all for lemmings for your dim-witted dissent. A near from now, the Zoo will be reflagged 808 G’tmo – and she WILL remember who voted her way.

  39. marilynblee says:

    I love the zoo, and it is one of Honolulu’s best places to visit. Please Mayor Kirk, work with the council to resolve the funding crisis.If everybody gave just a little bit, we would solve this.

  40. MakikiView says:

    I was shocked to learn that the Honolulu Zoo does not keep its admission ticket sales but instead has to hand over its gate revenue to the City general fund. The City then has to allocate funds to the Zoo. That is crazy. At the edge of Waikiki, the Zoo is one of the top most-visited sites on the island. Let the Zoo keep 100% of its ticket sales — and maybe its parking revenue, too. Problem solved.

  41. dtpro1 says:

    Yet another example of below average management by the Caldwell administration and the Council. We already have third world roads, homelessness and a host of other problems…guess a third world zoo is par for the course. Is there at least one function that the city can do at least average?

  42. yskeulb says:

    Let’s close down the zoo and expand the aquarium. Create something similar to the Monterey Bay Aquarium but Hawaiian style with nightly luaus and a Hawaiian history section. Monterey Bay Aquarium + Sea Life Park + Polynesian Cultural Center + Bishop Museum all rolled into one.

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