Chahinkapa Zoo, Wahpeton, is celebrating a special achievement.

The fall of 2020 marks 25 years, both a quarter-century of time and the silver level for anniversaries, of continuous accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Being AZA accredited is a way of keeping our standards to where they need to be,” Zoo Director Kathy Diekman said. “We keep our standards high in our mission of conservation, education and recreation. And we keep them high everywhere else.”

The Quarter Century Award was given in recognition of Chahinkapa Zoo’s continuous dedication to best modern zoological practices and philosophies, wrote Chris Kuhar, chair of the AZA board of directors, and Jeff Wyatt, doctor of veterinary medicine and chair of AZA’s accreditation commission.

Practices taken under consideration included animal care, welfare, management, veterinary care, conservation, education, staffing, facilities, safety and guest services.

“We applaud your dedicated commitment to AZA standards and policies,” Kuhar and Wyatt wrote.

Chahinkapa Zoo choses to reapply for AZA accreditation, Diekman said. The accreditation lasts for five years and she can remember back to when it was first sought in 1995.

“I learned the most in filling out the paperwork back then. The application process was where you learn everything. Nowadays, the accreditors spent three days with us before the final hearing at the national conference. The whole process lasts from February-September,” Diekman said.

Chahinkapa Zoo’s post-Labor Day schedule includes closing each day at 4 p.m. Seasonal hours will conclude Saturday, Oct. 24. The zoo reopens from 4:30-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 for the annual, family friendly ZooBoo.

Following ZooBoo, Chahinkapa Zoo will have special, to be announced fall and winter hours. The zoo is always open by appointment for special groups, Daily News previously reported.

Chahinkapa Zoo is located at 1004 RJ Hughes Drive, Wahpeton. For more information, call 701-642-8709 or visit

The Quarter Century Award was established in 2015, Kuhar and Wyatt wrote. It is designed to be displayed or mounted either indoors or outdoors. Either way, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums offered its sincerest compliments to Chahinkapa Zoo on a continued job well done.

“Wahpeton-Breckenridge used to be the smallest metropolitan area to have an accredited zoo,” Diekman said. “That may still be the case. I want us to keep going, for Chahinkapa to remain accredited. It keeps us on the top of our abilities as professionals.”

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