Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden gets a new accreditation

CINCINNATI, OH (July 11, 2023) – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded the highest level of Accreditation awarded by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum. The ArbNet accreditation program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism.

“Most visitors appreciate the beauty of the plants and trees around the Zoo, but few realize the incredible amount of work and dedication required to maintain, develop, and conserve these treasures,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s director of horticulture Steve Foltz. “That’s why it means so much to be recognized by the international community of fellow industry professionals and why we felt it was important to seek ArbNet accreditation. Achieving Level IV is truly something to celebrate.”

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is also now listed in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of organizations around the world that display trees, shrubs, and other woody plants for the benefit of the public, science, and conservation.

“One of the things that really set us apart and bumped us to the top accreditation level was the work that our endangered plant experts at the Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) do to propagate and preserve plant and tree species, most notably oaks,” said Foltz. “They’ve taken the important accreditation qualification to advance the planting, study, and conservation of trees to the next level by cryopreserving seeds and other plant tissue in our Frozen Garden.”

In addition to impressive science and research efforts, other accreditation considerations that factored into the high ranking included the work that the Zoo’s horticulture team has done to inspire more than 3000 individuals to plant and register pollinator gardens through its Plant for Pollinators program, the community gardens that it has planted and maintains, and the education courses, outreach, tours, and symposiums that it offers.

The most notable example of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s work to engage the community in activities that educate and inspire the protection of trees and plants is its creation and support of a two-acre mini-botanical garden on the campus of Rockdale Academy, a K-6 elementary school two blocks from the Zoo.

There are 2340 arboreta listed globally, and 628 of those have some level of ArbNet accreditation. Only 41 of those are Level IV. There are approximately nine zoos with accreditation, and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is the only one to achieve Level IV.

The Botanical Garden side of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden occupies the full 75-acre footprint of the Cincinnati Zoo and includes over 3000 accessions. Much of the collection, which consists of plants from shade trees to groundcovers, are species and selections being trialed for home garden and landscape use in Midwestern urban conditions. There are prominent seasonal displays, including a large and popular tulip display in the spring and, perhaps, the largest combined annuals trials/display planting in the country. This year alone the team planted about 60 thousand annuals of 700 varieties.

The Zoo opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. The Botanical Garden is all around the 80-acre campus, and there’s no extra charge to enjoy the beauty!

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