National Zookeeper Week

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

Zookeepers 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.  Zookeepers 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 zookeeper’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.

In August 2014, zookeepers 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.  Their first Rollin’ and Bowlin’ for Rhinos event will take place on August 22 at the Haygood Skating Rink.  All proceeds will benefit endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia.

One of the ways we are able to support our zookeepers 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 zookeepers.  The Keeper Fund receives all the money raised through Zoodoptions and Behind-the-Scenes tours as well as contributions from our supporters.  Call our Development Office at (757) 441-2374, ext. 222 for more information about how to contribute to the Keeper Fund.

If you visit the Zoo next week, be sure to thank the zookeepers for all of the hard work they do for the animals at our Zoo and beyond.

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