Micke Grove Zoo leaders were particularly interested in Atascadero zoo’s record of successful animal care 

ATASCADERO — An expert delegation from the Micke Grove Zoo in Lodi met with the City of Atascadero leadership and toured the Charles Paddock Zoo on July 12. This team of stakeholders met with Mayor Heather Moreno, now-retired City Manager Rachelle Rickard, and Zoo Director Alan Baker to understand what has made the Charles Paddock Zoo successful with its limited resources.

Micke Grove Zoo leaders were particularly interested in the Charles Paddock Zoo’s record of successful animal care and continued accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA accreditation ensures animal well-being and protects endangered species like the Paddock facility’s Malayan tiger, Menderu. Both zoos are municipally owned and similar in size, factors that offer challenges in regard to funding operations and capital improvements.

Charles Paddock Zoo Visit from Lodi scaled e1691003423331
A delegation from the Lodi Zoo poses with Atascadero leadership under the Charles Paddock Zoo entryway on the day of their visit, July 12. Contributed Photo

Manuel Mollinedo of the Lodi delegation has worked in zoo administration for decades in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. 

“We are impressed with the Charles Paddock Zoo and what they have accomplished with limited resources,” said Mollinedo. “It is encouraging what can be done in a small, city-owned zoo with grit and resourcefulness. They work miracles.” 

Mollinedo is among a number of individuals with wide-reaching experience who is interested in gaining AZA accreditation for Micke Grove Zoo.

Atascadero leadership welcomed the Lodi delegation and was honored to demonstrate the success of the Charles Paddock Zoo, which continually garners industry recognition despite the challenges of sustained funding for operations and capital improvements. 

“We were happy to share our experience with this delegation,” said Moreno. “They care deeply about the value that the zoo adds to their community and what it means to local families.”

Baker encouraged the Lodi delegation to continue pursuing accreditation. 

“We look forward to assisting Lodi’s Micke Grove Zoo as they seek accreditation with the AZA,” he said. “Getting accredited and staying accredited is no small feat, and we know firsthand how hard it is with limited resources.”

The delegation’s visit underscores the enormous benefits the zoo creates for residents and visitors in Atascadero and the entire Central Coast, according to the zoo. The Charles Paddock Zoo is the only AZA accredited zoo within 100 square miles of Atascadero, one of only 238 accredited zoos out of thousands in the United States, and is a leader in conservation, with programs like Saving Animals From Extinction (S.A.F.E.) and ensuring that no animal in the zoo is taken from the wild.