National Zoo Keeper Week


NZKW logo 2 (1)

As the need to protect and preserve our wildlife and vanishing habitats has increased, our role as educators and wildlife ambassadors has become essential. During the third week of July each year, celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week; both you and your animals deserve the recognition.

Program Manager

national zoo

Robin Sutker

NZKW Task Force Members

Paul Brandenburger

Paul Brandenburger


Rebecca Phillips

National Zoo Keeper Week

Animal Care Professionals: Wildlife caretakers and conservation ambassadors, both in zoological institutions and around the world.

 General Information:

National Zoo Keeper Week 2016 is July 17-23. For the most up to date information on NZKW and chapters across the country, visit AAZKNZKW on Facebook. To submit a highlight for an AAZK chapter, obtain a list of NZKW events/fundraiser ideas, or join the NZKW committee, please email the Program Manager at

 National Zoo Keeper Week’s Mission:

To recognize and promote dedicated zoo and aquarium professionals year round, culminating in an annual celebration during the third week in July – National Zoo Keeper Week.

National Zoo Keeper Week Goals:

  • Promote the dedication and hard work of animal care professionals year round
  • Celebrate animal care professionals’ achievements during the third week in July
  • Share the accomplishments of AAZK chapters
  • Create awareness of AAZK chapters’ dedication to conservation and wildlife to the public
  • Communicate the necessity for zoos and aquariums by way of animal care professionalism, research, and fundraising efforts

What is National Zoo Keeper Week?

As the need to protect and preserve wildlife and their vanishing habitats continues to increase, the animal care professional’s role as educators and conservation ambassadors has become essential. Zoo and aquarium professionals care for hundreds of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.

Three hundred and sixty five days a year, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, in all weather (from hurricanes, to blizzards, to heat waves, and everything in between), keepers have to be ready for anything. They are involved in captive animals’ lives and welfare from birth to death and every moment in between, and often create life long bonds. A keeper’s day can include an array of tasks including cleaning, food preparation and feed out, medical treatment, training, enrichment, landscaping, exhibit design, animal introductions, public outreach and education, and much MUCH more.

Most animal care professionals have bachelor degrees or higher, many with advanced degrees, and continue to advance their education by attending workshops, conferences, and certificate programs annually. They are not just skilled laborers, but professionals who continue to expand their knowledge of an ever advancing field. Working with animals requires constant complex problem solving and progressive learning. Beyond their daily duties, keepers are involved in research projects, field work, and conservation organizations. And yet – most do not earn more than minimum wage, and some even work second jobs.

But, in the end, being a zoo keeper, aquarist, aviculturist – whatever you call it, they’re all animal care professionals, and it is more than just a job. It’s a career, it’s a passion, it’s a calling.

THAT’S why we recognize zoo keepers year round, and THAT’S why we have a week dedicated to promoting their skills, dedication, and enthusiasm for wildlife to world. Join AAZK every third week in July, to celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week!

Ideas and Resources

Need ideas for celebrating this week or graphics? Download the following:

NZKW ideas (PDF)

Did you know?
The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is the only bear species that is known to be a marine mammal.

Plight of the Polar Bear

National Zoo Keeper Week Proclamation:

WHEREAS, worldwide animal populations are declining at an alarming rate with many facing extinction; and

WHEREAS, zoological institutions have become the final hope for many endangered species recovery programs through conservation research, release programs, and by being a portal through which the general public can view and appreciate disappearing wildlife; and

WHEREAS, zoological institutions are also population managers of keystone and cornerstone species, emphasizing the restoration of not just the endangered species, but a restoration of the delicate balance of nature; and

WHEREAS, zoo keepers are the frontline soldiers for conservation, participating in the battle for species survival and preservation of the natural homelands of the animals they care for through public awareness, education, and exhibition; and

WHEREAS, zoo keepers have become animal caretakers devoting their lives to caring for these animals; and

WHEREAS, zoo keepers have become the spokespersons for vanishing wildlife, carrying the conservation message of habitat loss, endangered species, and preservation of nature’s threatened wildlands to the public; and

WHEREAS, zoo keepers have become animal specialists, as educators, choreographers of animal behaviors through enrichment, behavior managers through operant conditioning, and reproductive specialists through improved observations and husbandry; and

WHEREAS, to help increase public awareness about the need to preserve our precious habitats and the animals which inhabit them and to recognize the roles that zookeepers play in animal conservation and education, The American Association of Zoo Keepers invites all AAZK chapters and animal care professionals to participate in National Zoo Keeper Week.

NZKW proclamation (Word format)

NZKW Graphics
Zoo keeper WEEK.Logo 2011 V


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