Who Can Apply

Who Can Apply


Our accreditation/verification program is used to evaluate organizations of varying missions worldwide that care for wildlife, equine and farm animals – all animal species except domestic cats and dogs (both socialized and feral). This includes:


Sanctuaries provide lifetime care for animals that have been abused, injured, abandoned, or are otherwise in need. These animals often come from private owners, research laboratories, government authorities, the entertainment industry, and zoos.

Rescue Centers

Rescue centers temporarily care for animals with the goal of placing them in permanent ownership/foster care with approved members of the public, or with accredited or verified sanctuaries. Rescue Center animals often include domestic equines, farmed animals, birds, and reptiles.

Rehabilitation Centers

Rehabilitation centers temporarily care for wildlife so that they can be returned back to their native environments. This includes facilities that provide transitional support as part of a reintroduction protocol, which serves as an important conservation tool.

Is Your Organization Eligible to Apply for GFAS Accreditation or Verification?

To be eligible for GFAS Accreditation or Verification, organizations must have non-profit /non-commercial status and endorse the following policies:

  • No captive breeding (with a potential exception for only those organizations having a bona fide release/ reintroduction program to return wildlife to their native habitat)
  • No commercial trade in animals or animal parts
  • No tours allowed that are not guided and conducted in a careful manner that minimizes the impact on the animals and their environment, does not cause them stress, and gives them the ability to seek undisturbed privacy and quiet
  • Animals are not exhibited or taken from the sanctuary or enclosures/habitats for non-medical reasons, with some limited exceptions for certain animal species, such as horses, under approved circumstances
  • The public does not have direct contact with wildlife (with some limited exceptions as outlined in the Standards for some birds and small reptiles)

In addition, organizations must demonstrate:

  • Adherence to standards of animal care including housing, veterinary care, nutrition, animal well-being and handling policies, as well as standards on physical facilities, records and staff safety, confirmed by an extensive questionnaire, site visit, and interviews.
  • Ethical practices in fundraising
  • Ethical acquisition and disposition of animals
  • Restrictions on research – limited to non-invasive projects that provide a health, welfare or conservation benefit to the individual animal and/or captive animal management and/or population conservation
  • The existence of a contingency plan, if the property where the sanctuary is located is not owned by the sanctuary or its governing organization.

Accreditation vs. Verification: What is the difference?

In addition to meeting the requirements described above, accreditation involves an additional rigorous screening of compliance with GFAS operational standards regarding matters such as:

  • Governance
  • Staffing
  • Finance
  • Education and outreach
  • Safety policies, protocols, and training

Ready to Apply for Accreditation or Verification?

If you meet the above guidelines, begin the application process here. Or learn more about the GFAS Standards here.


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