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Published on May 25, 2024
San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay Stripped of Accreditation Amid Financial and Management TurmoilSource: EditorAOTB2020, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Aquarium of the Bay, a popular San Francisco attraction, is swimming in troubled waters after losing its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The AZA announced on Friday that their unanimous decision was due to the aquarium's failure to meet "a number of key areas", including financial health and the well-being of its staff, as detailed in the CBS News Bay Area report.

This blow to the institution's reputation occurs amid organizational chaos, with the exit of its CEO, George Jacob, earlier in the week. Jacob faced criticism over expenses, which included a substantial $286,000 on flights and hotels and another $461,000 for an environmental event with Stewart Copeland in Dubai, according to the SFist. Some staff reportedly contended with calls from collection agencies because of unpaid bills by an aquarium that was also behind on its rent.

Despite these setbacks, Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the AZA, offered a glimmer of hope for the Bay's aquatic center. "We hope that the Aquarium of the Bay can quickly resolve these issues, and if so, we look forward to welcoming them back into our community of members," Ashe said via CBS News Bay Area. The aquarium has until June 13 to appeal the AZA's decision.

Jon Fisher, the newly appointed board chair of, the parent nonprofit of the Aquarium of the Bay, acknowledged the dire situation. "This is really the face of what I believe to be gross mismanagement," Fisher told the SF Chronicle, expressing a commitment to immediate remedial actions. However, the board chair who presided over much of the flagged expenditures was Ben Bleiman, a notable figure in San Francisco's nightlife and political scene.

The summer season at the Aquarium of the Bay will carry on despite a tide of uncertainties surrounding the future of the embattled institution. No operational changes are expected for the immediate future as tourists flock to Fisherman's Wharf.