National Zoo Keeper Week

Each year the third week in July is National Zoo Keeper Week! As the need to protect and preserve our wildlife and vanishing habitats has increased, the Zoo Keeper’s role as educator and wildlife ambassador has become essential.


Zoo Keepers inspire people to care about animals and conservation.  Every species has a compelling story to tell and Keepers share these natural histories with visitors.  Animal care requires patience and a willingness to keep learning.  Zoo Keepers go to training seminars and conferences all across the country and the world to learn new ways to care for and provide enrichment to the animals in their purview.

This line of work can be demanding, but the rewards are great. Keepers work with many different types of animals and much of a Zoo Keeper’s job takes place behind-the-scenes.  They work closely with the Zoo’s veterinary staff to monitor animals’ health and are responsible for the creatures in their care for many stages of their lives.  Training looks like fun and games, but it makes it easier to perform routine health checks on animal residents—and many animals seem to enjoy the interactions with Keepers.

This year, the Virginia Zoo Keepers are going all out to celebrate the work each and every keeper does on a daily basis.

The week will include tons and tons of food, which can only mean one thing: a special edition of Animeals! Chef Yohn will prepare the ultimate human dish: a full varietal arrangement of lumpia! Be sure to be on the look out for the step by step process on how to properly make the delicious meal. The blog will be out mid-week.

It’s survival of the fittest in the Virginia Zoo’s Animal Kingdom as the Keepers themselves will fight for bragging rights in this year’s Keeper Olympics! Hilarious pics and an event recap will follow on our social media once the games have concluded!

In August 2014, Zoo Keepers from the Virginia Zoo, along with those from the Virginia Aquarium and the Virginia Living Museum, formed a local chapter of AAZK, the American Association of Zoo Keepers.  The Tidewater Chapter of AAZK strives to promote conservation efforts both locally and on a broader international scale. The AAZK is gearing up for several fundraisers, including this year’s Bowling for Rhinos event, and will be talking about their conservation efforts all throughout the week! Mark your calendars for these awesome events!

Lastly, you’ll get all of the dirt on one of our Zoo Keeper’s once-in-a-lifetime conservation trip! Our Keepers don’t just enjoy taking care of the Virginia Zoo’s animals, but they’re concerned for the welfare of animals far beyond our boundaries! Be sure to check the blog for the story of Dennis’s excursion to the desert to monitor a tortoise species in the wild!

One of the ways we are able to support our Zoo Keepers is through the Virginia Zoo Keeper Fund.  We can buy treats, toys, and supplies for the Zoo’s 500+ animals, as well as provide specialized training for their Keepers. The Keeper Fund receives all of the money raised through Zoodoptions and Behind-the-Scenes tours as well as contributions from our supporters. Donate today!