SEA LIFE Mooloolaba has become the first aquarium in Australia to receive accreditation from the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA), the peak industry body of the Australasia region.
The Sunshine Coast attraction, which opened in 1989 and re-launched in 2013 following a $6.5m refurbishment, is the only Australian aquarium to satisfy the requirements set by ZAA’s new accreditation program, which was created to set a new standard for animal welfare.
To obtain accreditation, members must satisfy requirements outlined by an updated framework focused on providing the best possible care to animals housed at their facility.
SEA LIFE Mooloolaba General Manager Quinn Clarke said the accreditation, representing a world first for the zoo and aquarium industry, was a wonderful endorsement of the team’s tireless work and commitment to marine conservation.
“Our team at SEA LIFE Mooloolaba have been rehabilitating sick and injured marine animals for more than 25 years, always providing the highest level of care to all of the species at the attraction with the ultimate aim of educating the community on the importance of conserving our precious marine environment,” Mr Clarke said.
“We are humbled to become the first aquarium in Australia to meet ZAA’s positive animal welfare standards as outlined by the new accreditation program.
“With this new award, visitors can again be assured of SEA LIFE Mooloolaba’s strong ethical and environmental values, BREED, RESCUE and PROTECT,” Mr Clarke said.
ZAA President Kevin Tanner said SEA LIFE Mooloolaba was the first aquarium to undergo review of its facility for accreditation.
“The accreditation program goes beyond setting minimum standards for animal care to focus on delivering positive welfare outcomes,” Mr Tanner said.
“This was the first welfare review for a ZAA aquarium member. The Association would like to thank SEALIFE Mooloolaba for supporting this exercise which has resulted in identification of how the criteria can be better applied in aquatic environments.”
SEA LIFE Mooloolaba relaunched in December 2013, unveiling five new zones – Seahorse Sanctuary, Pacific Reef, Jelly Fish Kingdom, Tidal Touch Pool and Coastal Wreck, on top of the already existing informative and interactive exhibits.
The aquarium is committed to the rehabilitation of sick and injured marine animals, with its Turtle Hospital equipped to host dozens of injured turtles at a time. The turtles are cared for in a facility solely dedicated to the animal, which includes various tanks holding between five and 1,500L of water.
SEA LIFE Mooloolaba rescues and rehabilitates endangered turtles before releasing them back into the ocean, nursing more than 850 turtles over the past two decades.
Other highlights of the attraction are Seal Island with Australian and New Zealand Fur Seals and Sea Lions on display, and the walkthrough Ocean Tunnel, home to majestic sharks, a variety of rays and an explosion of colour in the unique Coral Cove.
For more information about SEA LIFE Mooloolaba, please visit www.underwaterworld.com.au