HONOLULU - A panel of Association of Zoos and Aquariums executive members met with a team from the Honolulu Zoo this Monday in Omaha, Nebraska to consider the city’s application for re-accreditation of the Honolulu Zoo.

Shortly after the meeting, AZA officials notified the team the application had been denied, citing concerns about consistent funding. The AZA encouraged Honolulu to re-apply for accreditation once the funding situation has been addressed by both the city and its community partners.

"I think today marks a bold change in direction in how we view and treat the zoo in our city's funding process," said Trevor Ozawa, Honolulu City Councilman for District 4.

There is a one year waiting period before Honolulu can re-apply.

The AZA made it clear they are pleased with the direction of the Honolulu Zoo, including the work done on deferred maintenance and the care of animals. Maintenance and animal care did not factor into the decision to deny re-accreditation.

However, the AZA is concerned the city has not provided adequate funding to the zoo on a consistent basis. This item had been highlighted in previous inspections and the AZA determined that it has not been adequately addressed.

Honolulu Zoo officials say the zoo can remain open despite losing its accreditation.

An AZA official told KITV the loss will primarily affect zoo staff members who want to attend special programs hosted by AZA.

"The staff at Honolulu Zoo will not be able to participate in programs, both education and professional development," said Rob Vernon, an AZA spokesperson.

The city team that traveled to Omaha consisted of Honolulu Zoo Director Dr. Baird Fleming, Assistant Zoo Director Linda Santos, and Managing Director Roy Amemiya. Dr. Fleming said his staff will continue to apply all AZA standards and best practices at the zoo going forward.