Committees and Programs


Dedicated to professional animal care, the vision of AAZK is to provide resources for zookeepers and animal care professionals. AAZK seeks to cultivate quality animal care by making available the latest techniques and resources in animal husbandry and management and by recognizing the efforts of groups and individuals for excellence in advancing the animal keeping profession and promoting conservation efforts. Our committees are designed to further this vision.

If interested in a specific committee, its’ function, or to reach the Award Nominations, please log in to the Members Only Page and open the Committees and Program – Awards tab.

Awards Committee

AC Logo Certificate B RGB (2)

The Awards Committee recognizes excellence in the field of animal care through its awards. The Committee develops the awards’ criteria, nominating procedure, qualifications for nominees, selection procedure and recognizes award’s recipients each year at the National Conference.

Please contact the Awards Chair, Erika Defer, at 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” – “Awards Committee”.

Animal Welfare Committee

The Animal Welfare Committee exists to serve our AAZK members by providing access to up to date resources relevant to Behavioral Husbandry topics including: training, enrichment and animal welfare. The committee strives to encourage, educate, share knowledge and share techniques typified in zoo and aquarium settings.  For more information contact

Communication Committee


The Communication Committee serves the AAZK members by facilitating communication through Social Media resources, providing real-time information to the membership. The committee also provides internal communication strategies to assist the Board of Directors, membership and Chapters in facilitating communication.  For More information contact

Conservation Committee


The Conservation Committees Mission is to connect AAZK members with opportunities to engage in habitat conservation and in situ wildlife initiatives and to provide educational resources about environmentally responsible practices. For more information contact


Diversity Committee

The AAZK Diversity Committee will serve as a resource regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in AAZK and the animal care field as a whole. The primary focus will be on increasing the presence of underrepresented groups in the animal care profession, with an emphasis on animal care professionals, and promoting full inclusion in all facets of their career.


Ethics Committee

This committee shall investigate any formal written complaints of violation of the Code of Professional Ethics, Bylaws, or Resolutions as are brought to its attention by the Board of Directors or the membership and make recommendations for action to the Board of Directors. The committee shall consist of four Professional members in addition to and chaired by the Immediate Past President of the Association. Appointments to the Committee shall occur every two years and are made by the Board of Directors.

Grants Committee

Grants logo

The purpose of the AAZK Research Grants Committee is to encourage and support research conducted by members in zoological parks and aquariums. Through collaboration with scientists in other institutions, it is hoped that members will achieve continuing professional growth, and thereby increase the benefits to the zoological community. For more information contact

AAZK is pleased to announce a member/non-member Student Diversity Grant designed to assist minority AAZK Student members currently enrolled in undergraduate programs with the costs associated with attending a National AAZK Conference. This grant will help with the costs of travel, registration, and lodging.

Only Student AAZK members currently enrolled in undergraduate programs, in good standing are eligible to apply. Applicants must also self-identify as belonging to one or more of the racial or ethnic minority groups listed below:
● Hispanic, Latinx or Spanish
● Black or African American
● Asian
● American Indian or Alaska Native
● Middle Eastern or North African
● Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
● Some other minority race or ethnicity

International Outreach Committee

International utreach Committee

The International Outreach Committee is dedicated to providing training and educational opportunities for international animal care professionals.  The committee’s goal is to offer resources and opportunities to improve animal well-being through networking with leaders in the field, while increasing knowledge of wildlife conservation efforts.  Currently, the committee is focusing on Latin American countries.

El Comité de Vinculación Internacional está dedicado a proporcionar oportunidades de capacitación y educación a profesionales internacionales de cuidado animal a nivel internacional. La meta del comité es ofrecer recursos y oportunidades para mejorar el bienestar animal a través de la interconexión con líderes en el campo de cuidado animal, mientras que aumenta el conocimiento de los esfuerzos en conservación de fauna silvestre. Por el momento, el comité está enfocando sus esfuerzos en los países Latinoamericanos.

The International Outreach Committee has developed the AAZK Conference Latin America Travel Grant.  This grant is only available to Latin American keepers. The AAZK Conference Latin America Travel Grant will aid Latin American keepers in financing their travel and expenses associated with the annual AAZK conference.  For more information contact

El Comité de Vinculación Internacional ha desarrollado la Beca para Viajar desde Latinoamérica al Congreso Nacional de la AAZK. Esta beca está disponible solamente para personal de cuidado animal de Latinoamérica. La beca ayudara a cuidadores de Latinoamérica cubrir los gastos asociados con asistir al congreso anual de la AAZK.

Deadline November 15 
Fecha limite 15 de Noviembre

IOC Grant Instructions (English)
IOC Grant Instructions (Spanish)

IOC Grant Application (English)
IOC Grant Application (Spanish)


Safety Committee

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To provide resources and opportunities for safety and health training with continuing education in keeper safety primarily through electronic resources available through AAZK Online, and though workshops and certification courses held during AAZK National Conferences. For more information contact


Dedicated to professional animal care, the vision of AAZK is to provide resources through internal, national and international Programs. Our Programs are developed to further this vision. To learn about AAZK Programs please click on one of the links below.

Bylaws Program

The Program Manager annually reviews the Bylaws of the Association and shall recommend changes, if any, to the Board of Directors. When developing new Bylaws, the Program expands to a Member Committee consisting of five members, two of which shall be member of the Board of Directors. (If you would like a copy of the Association’s Bylaws please contact the Administrative Office.)

AAZK Resource Committee (ARC)

The AAZK Resource Committee creates, maintains, and distributes a living database of resources for chapters, members, and institutions that explore frequently asked questions and emerging issues in animal care. ARC will also guide AAZK chapters and further the zoo keeping field by creating original content, graphics, and resources reflective of the needs of the membership and professional community. For further information contact

A component of ARC Is the National Zoo Keeper Week program. As the need to protect and preserve our wildlife and vanishing habitats has increased, our role as educators and wildlife ambassadors has become essential. During the third week of July each year, celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week; both you and your animals deserve the recognition. For more information contact

Trees for You and Me Program


Trees for You & Me is an annual AAZK Chapter competition launched by former PBI Field Ambassadors as a financial campaign to fund tree-planting. Every year, the effort has a local focus.  AAZK believes drawing attention to the benefits of urban tree-planting and tropical reforestation and has partnered with Polar Bears International to develop the associated educational programming and awareness such events create. For more information contact