National ZooKeeper Week starts on the third Sunday of July every year, and takes place from July 21 to 27 this year. The week-long observance aims to appreciate zookeepers’ hard work, conservation efforts, and passion. They’re absolutely essential to the smooth functioning of any zoo and the continuance of the animal care profession.
History of National ZooKeeper Week
Following the efforts of the American Association of ZooKeepers (AAZK), the third week of July was made National ZooKeeper Week by the U.S. Congress in the year 2007. The official mission of this week is to “recognize and promote dedicated zoo and aquarium professionals year-round, culminating in an annual celebration.”
We all have visited zoos in our childhood and even as adults. Zoo visits have often been part of school field trips as they are a great place to learn about animals and expand our knowledge. However, we often overlook the unsung heroes who work to keep the zoos and their animals in the best conditions possible — the zookeepers. This week aims to honor the hard work, dedication, fun, patience, and professionalism that goes into this profession and the efforts put in by every member. Furthermore, it seeks to highlight the diversity of zookeepers and their contributions to global conservation efforts.
Zookeepers are extremely passionate people and they work towards inspiring people to care about animals and make a place for them in their hearts. They strive to tell you the unique and compelling story of each animal and species. There is a lot going on behind the scenes such as animal health checks, maintenance programs, etc. Zookeepers are constantly upskilling by attending training sessions and conferences to learn new ways to provide better care for animals.
Now, across the United States, AAZK chapters and zoos celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week during the third week of July.
National ZooKeeper Week timeline
Henry III moves his private royal menagerie to the Tower of London for public viewing
The Imperial Menagerie in Vienna, Austria, is established.
The Zoological Society of London is formed, which gives birth to the abbreviation ‘zoo.’
Berlin Zoo is established and is home to nearly 20,000 animals across thousands of species
National ZooKeeper Week FAQs
How many days a week do zookeepers work?
While zookeepers officially work five days a week and eight hours a day, their work hours may be extended in case of an unavoidable exigency involving an animal
What does the zookeeper do every day?
A zookeeper’s daily routine typically consists of activities like cleaning and taking care of the animals and their exhibits, managing the animals’ diet, keeping records, and providing enrichment for the animals.
Is there a high demand for zookeepers?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for zookeepers is expected to increase 15% through 2022, thus creating more than 5,000 job openings each year.
How to Observe National ZooKeeper Week
Read about zookeeping
Ever considered having a career in zookeeping? You can use this week to read up about zookeeping from the American Association of Zoo Keepers. This will help you decide if this profession is of interest to you and how you can go about building a career in this field if need be.
Volunteer at a local zoo
There’s no better way to learn about zookeeping than actually doing it yourself. You can volunteer to assist a zookeeper at a local zoo and see their efforts and passion. You can even get a chance to observe animal behavior and learn more about the species.
Express gratitude to a zookeeper
Head to a local zoo and express your gratitude to a zookeeper on duty. Let them know you understand the hard work they put in to provide a quality life for the animals and an enriching experience for the visitors. It will make their day and motivate them.
5 Interesting Facts About Zoos
World’s largest zoo
The world’s largest zoo is Chester Zoo in England, with over 21,000 animals.
World’s best zoo
The San Diego Zoo has often been nominated as one of the best zoos in the world.
The U.S. has the most zoos
The United States has the highest number of zoos with around 371
The first zoo in the world
The first zoo was built in Paris, France, which was called the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plante.
The first zoo in the U.S.
The United States’ first zoo opened in New York and was called the Central Park Zoo.
Why National ZooKeeper Week is Important
Zookeepers keep animals healthy
Zookeepers are responsible for the diet and upkeep of animals in zoos. They look after their daily food intake and keep a close check on them to identify any issues. They ensure that the animals are healthy and living their best lives without any trouble or pain.
Zookeepers educate visitors
While zookeepers look after the animals, they carry out another important task — they educate all visitors who come to see the beautiful residing animals. They spread awareness on species and teach us everything there is to know about a particular animal.
Zookeepers have a physically exhausting job
As fun and enriching as it sounds, zookeeping requires a great amount of stamina and excellent health. It is a physically demanding job and will keep you on your feet for the most part of the day, regardless of the weather conditions. Zookeepers carry out their duties with determination and passion.
National ZooKeeper Week dates