National Zoo Keeper Week

Starting the third Sunday of every July, AAZK chapters around the country celebrate and promote the work of their animal care professionals – the keepers.  This year NZKW will be highlighting the diversity of keepers and their contributions to global conservation efforts.


KC AAZK Chapter Events 2016

Join us in celebrating animal care professionals at these fun events!  Download our NZKW 2016 event flier.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 20: Walking Tacos Lunch 11am-1pm

KCZ keepers--sleep in and leave your lunch at home!  Join us from 11-1 at ZooOps for $3 Walking Tacos.  For $3 you can fill a Doritos or Fritos bag with your favorite taco toppings.  All KC Zoo staff welcome!  Cake provided by AAZK.  Download our Walking Taco event flier.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20: SeaLife Aquarium Tour & Pizza 5:30pm (space limited!)

Night out at the sea life aquarium.  Meet at the aquarium entrance at 5:30 for a behind-the-scenes tour and pizza. (limited to 12 AAZK members, RSVP to Jacque at [email protected] by Tuesday, July 19)

THURSDAY, JULY 21: Cookout, JoCART Speaker & Game Night 6pm

Join us at the Lake Lodge at Camp Lake of the Woods (courtesy of Lakeside Nature Center) where we will be having a cookout and listening to a presentation by Carla Lewis about JoCART (Johnson County Animal Rescue Team)

AAZK will provide the grill food, please bring a side to share and BYOB

Grill will be started at 6:00 and presentation will start at 6:30. 

We will also be inviting volunteers from Lakeside to come celebrate the evening with us!  RSVP to Jacque at [email protected] by Tuesday, July 19.  Download our Cookout & Speaker event flier.

Why celebrate keepers?

National Zookeeper 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 Zookeeper Week.

National Zookeeper 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 Zookeeper 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 zookeeper, 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 zookeepers 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 Zookeeper Week!

Info from National AAZK website