Treatment of animals, conditions not taken into account in the loss of accreditation at the Chahinkapa zoo


“I’m sure I looked like a deer in the headlights,” director Kathy Diekman said.

She refers to her recent reaccreditation meeting with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, when the board raised issues that were not in the inspectors’ report this summer. This included two rhinos who arrived at the zoo injured in 2018, and the recent acquisition of two cheetahs. The board did not like the company from which they were acquired.

“As long as we’re working with reputable agencies, that’s fine. We haven’t done anything illegal or unethical,” Diekman said.

The two-page report included compliments and concerns, but none were considered major. Diekman was congratulated on 30 years of operating the zoo. The vet also received praise for improving preventative care for the animals.

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The biggest concern AZA has raised is that the zoo’s musically talented orangutan lives alone. However, the zoo says it has been trying to find another orangutan for years.

Other issues raised were the lack of fire alarms in a building and some obsolete zoo practices, such as its fencing.

“The fence is chain-link because that’s what withstands our winters,” Diekman said.

The AZA awarded the zoo a quarter century award in 2020. Diekman wants the public to know that the AZA is a supporting organization they have paid to participate in the programs.

The US Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota Animal Health Council monitor the zoo. Diekman said the USDA typically makes three unannounced visits each year. They haven’t noted any concerns in seven years.

She welcomes questions from any member of the public who has concerns.

“If they want to know things, knock on our door. I’ll show you around, I’ll show you around, and it can be anytime if you really want to see what’s going on behind the scenes,” a- she declared. .

Diekman said the only real impact will be the reciprocity list, which the zoo will now have to create rather than receive an AZA print. It won’t hurt operations, she said, and will actually give the zoo a little more flexibility to do the things it wanted to do to improve and grow.

“We will always be able to bring the animals here for our visitors and for conservation and education, and we will always give people a taste of nature. That’s what zoos do,” Diekman said.

Requests for comment to AZA were not returned.


Boyd S. Abbott