“I still have fear for my career,” one employee said. “The zoo community is small and word travels fast.”

That's a quote from a former Chahinkapa Zoo employee in a story featured on KVRR.com. You'll find the zoo in Wahpeton, North Dakota but you'll no longer find it on the roster of the Association of Zoo and Aquariums.

There's more than one former employee speaking out in the article there's a number of former zookeepers that refer to the atmosphere as a "toxic work environment", "gas lighting", and "a terrible experience". They cite misdirected fundraisers such as Zombie Paintball and Wild Game Shows.

Honestly the story is like eavesdropping on a disgruntled employee convention.

But for many, the tone they use still seems respectful- it was their experience working there that left many of them bitter.  Not uncommon in many employment situations.  The article does give both sides of the story, but it does seem that communication has been an ongoing issue between staff and the director.

Why are they no longer an accredited AZA Zoo?

The reasons here aren't especially clear.  There were issues of concern stemming from an AZA inspection in June of 2021. Many things I have read use the term "lost their accreditation" but on the Zoo Facebook page, Zoo Director Kathy Diekman wrote this

Hoping to clear this up some - AZA is a choice to be a part of. It is not a mandatory organization to belong to.
Due to the philosophical differences and changes in the AZA organization, the Chahinkapa Zoo Board feels that it is time to part ways and use our annual AZA dues elsewhere to enhance the zoo in other ways. We are still the same facility and still have USDA and ND Animal Board of Health we are governed by. We are doing our continuous research on conservation and looking for ways to help enhance and educate the public.

So all this was about money?

I guess it always is about the money.

You can read the report from the AZA inspection on the Chahinkapa Zoo Facebook page by clicking here for accomplishments and for areas of concern. I applaud the zoo for being transparent with the report.

It seems that the overall report was actually pretty positive.  The major area of concern is that the orangutan has been living alone for too long.  The Zoo Facebook page has a good response you can read here. Seems they've tried to find him a lady orangutan but the AZA themselves replied

"Simply being solitary does not necesarily represent a welfare concern when it comes to orangutans since some simply prefer to be alone" 

Well, there's the back and forth of the story...

Best of luck to the Chahinkapa Zoo

Get the zoo visuals by watching this quick tour of the zoo from 2019.

Here's a walk-through of the Chahinkapa Zoo from the Fargo Tourist YouTube Channel

Now take a peek at the video of them cute kids from the picture!

Since GavGrey TV YouTube Channel provided that charming picture- no doubt you have to watch their YouTube video as they walk the zoo on the FIRST DAY OF SPRING 2021!  It's a well-produced video you'll like it

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