Awards

Please contact the Awards Chair, Erika Defer, at awards@aazk.org to obtain full descriptions, nomination forms and for any questions on the nomination and selection process.

If you are current member of AAZK, you can access the full descriptions as well as nomination forms in the members-only section of the website once you log in. This will be found under “Committees & Programs” à “Awards Committee”.

Chapters, teams and/or individuals that are nominated shall be in good standing with their facility and AAZK.

Anyone in the animal care profession that has worked directly with the nominee(s) is able to send in a nomination form.

 

The AAZK Excellence in Animal Nutrition Award

The American Association of Zoo Keepers Excellence in Animal Nutrition Award is presented by the AAZK Awards Committee. The purpose of this award is to recognize individuals in the zoological community who have been actively involved in projects/studies/research concerning zoo/aquarium nutrition. The AAZK Excellence in Animal Nutrition Award was established in 2005.  The award is presented at the annual AAZK National Conference.

Qualifications

  • The nominee(s) shall be a member of AAZK, in good standing, at any membership level and a keeper/aquarist/nutritionist/etc. in any North American zoological institution or aquarium
  • Nominee must have been actively involved in projects, studies, and/or research concerning zoo/aquarium nutrition.

The AAZK Excellence in Exhibit Renovation Award

The American Association of Zoo Keepers Excellence in Exhibit Renovation Award is presented by the AAZK Awards Committee. The purpose of the award is to recognize the integral participation of AAZK members in the renovation of existing animal facilities (exhibit or holding).

     Qualifications

  • An individual member of AAZK, a team from a zoological institution, or a chartered AAZK chapter, in good standing, are eligible to be nominated for this award.
  • The nominee(s) shall be members of AAZK, in good standing, at any membership level and work in any North American zoological institution or organization.
  • Must have documented animal keeper involvement in the concept, design, and renovation of an existing animal exhibit, animal enclosure or off exhibit holding to improve the welfare of the animal(s).
  • The renovated exhibit must be in full operation for at least one (1) year.
  • The exhibit renovation shall be nominated by an individual at that same institution or organization.

 

The AAZK Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award

The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals, teams and AAZK Chapters that connect the public with animals and conservation through institutional message delivery. Examples are Keeper Chats w/public, Animal Encounters via Ambassador Animals, Facility/Chapter Educational Events, Keeper voices within Facility/Chapter Social Media Platforms, Keeper contributions to Facility Camps.

     Qualifications

  • An individual member of AAZK, a team from a zoological institution, or a chartered AAZK chapter, in good standing, are eligible to be nominated for this award.
  • The nominee(s) shall be Professional Members of AAZK, in good standing, and work in any North American zoological institution or organization.
  • The public education is to be above and beyond typified programs and achievements of current professional and industry standards.

 

The AAZK Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Association of Zoo Keepers Lifetime Achievement Award is for members of AAZK to recognize an individual’s dedicated commitment to the animal care profession over the course of their career with measurable contributions to the zoological community combined with impeccable character, a distinguished record of honorable service to AAZK and/or their institution.

     Qualifications

  • The nominee shall be a current member of AAZK, in good-standing, at the time of nomination or in the case of a posthumous nomination, the nominee shall have been a member of AAZK, meeting the following criteria:
    • The Nominee shall be a Professional Member of AAZK for a minimum of twenty (20) years;

Or;

  • The nominee shall be employed for a minimum of twenty (20) years of combined service within the zoo or aquarium profession with initial employment at the keeper/aquarist level for ten (10) years, with subsequent supervisory, management, educational or specialized employment, achieving the minimum of twenty years in the animal care profession.

The AAZK Meritorious Achievement Award

The American Association of Zoo Keepers Meritorious Service Award is intended to recognize individuals with a commitment and service to the zoo and aquarium profession in partnership with the American Association of Zoo Keepers to provide a quality of life for exotic animals in captivity and/or to recognize a career commitment to conservation of species and habitat on a global platform.

     Qualifications

  • The nominee shall be strongly committed to education, conservation, science and the welfare of animals, and be actively involved in furthering these causes within the zoo and aquarium profession or field of conservation.
  • The nominee shall have made outstanding contributions to the zoo and aquarium profession, conservation, science or technology, as represented by scholarly publications and presentations, institutional and association leadership, and/or other tangible and measurable achievements.
  • Any person meeting the above descriptions is eligible to be nominated; they may be a current member of AAZK at any membership level, however, the nominee is not required to be a current or past member of AAZK

The AAZK Lee Houts Advancement in Environmental Enrichment Award

The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding keeper-initiated contributions to the art and science of environmental enrichment. It is hoped that recognition of outstanding efforts by keepers to improve animal care and welfare through environmental enrichment will provide incentive to keepers to continue to be leaders in this important endeavor.

     Qualifications

  • An individual member of AAZK, a team from a zoological institution, or a chartered AAZK chapter, in good standing, are eligible to be nominated for this award.
  • The nominee(s) shall be Professional Members of AAZK, in good standing, and work in any North American zoological institution or organization.
  • Nominee(s) must have improved the well-being of an animal or group of animals through outstanding keeper-initiated enrichment techniques
  • The enrichment is to be above and beyond typified programs and achievements of current professional and industry standards.

The AAZK Jean M. Hromadka Excellence in Animal Care Award

The purpose of the American Association of Zoo Keepers Jean M. Hromadka Excellence in Animal Care Award is to recognize achievement and determination of an individual or team in the animal care field and in fostering professionalism. Animal care is a science combining zoology, biology, animal management, animal welfare, behavioral observation and daily record keeping on the species in their care. This is essential knowledge for maintaining a species effectively in captivity. The excellent animal care professional must excel in one or more of these areas.

     Qualifications

  • An individual member of AAZK, a team from a zoological institution, or a chartered AAZK chapter, in good standing, are eligible to be nominated for this award.
  • The nominee(s) shall be Professional Members of AAZK, in good standing, and full-time animal care professionals working in any North American zoological institution or organization.
  • The nominee(s) shall be employed at least three (3) years on permanent status at the same zoo, aquarium or related facility.
  • The nominee(s) shall be nominated by his or her peers or managers who have also been employed at the same zoo, aquarium or related facility.

The AAZK Nico van Strien Leadership in Conservation Award

The purpose of the American Association of Zoo Keepers Nico van Strien Leadership in Conservation Award is to recognize outstanding AAZK member-initiated contributions to the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. It will be presented to an individual AAZK member or a team of AAZK members in good standing who have showed a dedication to the stewardship of the natural world through the creation, continuation, and/or promotion of a conservation project that is not the primary part of their job. AAZK members must often find pockets of their own personal time to nurture personal conservation efforts. These selfless efforts which make a positive difference to local ecosystems and inspire communities to action, are a fundamental part of a zoo professional’s philosophy.

Qualifications

  • The nominee shall be a Professional Member of AAZK, in good standing, associated with a North American Zoological Institution, aquarium or related facility.
  • The project identified in the application shall protect, study, and/or promote stewardship of the natural world.
  • The nominee shall be nominated by his or her peers who have witnessed first-hand the nominee’s dedication to the associated conservation project.

The AAZK Lutz Ruhe Professional of the Year Award

The purpose of the American Association of Zoo Keepers Lutz Ruhe Professional of the Year Award is to recognize professional members of AAZK, in good standing in the association, for their day-to day professionalism within their facility. This includes participation in AAZK and/or AZA conservation projects and dedicating time to other facility-related projects or programs (e.g. BFR, TFYM, conservation, wildlife education and individual breeding projects). Commitment and dedication to AAZK at a National or Chapter level enhances the nomination.

Qualifications

  • The nominee shall work full-time in animal care and shall be a Professional Member of AAZK, in good standing, employed in any North American zoo, aquarium, or related facility.
  • The nominee must have been employed at least five (5) years on a permanent basis at a zoo, aquarium, or related facility.
  • Peers or colleagues must nominate the nominee. Zoo, aquarium or related facility personnel may submit other supporting nominations. The nominators need not be from the same institution.