Networking with peers in animal care
One of my favorite things to do Zoo Atlanta, besides taking care of the hoofstock animals, is being able to attend conferences! This past October, I was able to attend my first national American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK for short) Conference in Denver, Colorado! What is AAZK? AAZK is an association made up of zoological animal care professionals. A lot of zoos have their own chapters, including Zoo Atlanta. Georgia AAZK is our local chapter, and this year I am Vice President! I’ve been a member for almost four years, two as Secretary. We do a lot of fundraisers, like Bowling for Rhinos, and this year we did a Surf and Turf trivia event with Georgia Aquarium. It’s a lot of fun and something I am passionate about.
One of the highlights of going to the National AAZK conference is meeting and networking with keepers from all over the U.S. and Canada. There are presentations, papers and workshops to attend and learn from. One presentation I attended was about training ostriches for X-rays. I was able to bring that information back to Zoo Atlanta, so that if someday we needed it, we would have it and would know who to contact for more information. I attended a conservation workshop, where we learned what keepers at Denver Zoo were doing for greater one-horned rhinos in Nepal. It was interesting to learn what field conservation opportunities there are.
I took a certificate course on leadership, which I found very insightful and encouraging, and I took a test after (and passed!) to receive a certificate. We had a “Zoo Day”, where we went to Denver Zoo and did some behind-the-scenes tours and learned about what kind of training and enrichment they do for their animals. I found this very interesting, as I am always looking for new enrichment items for our animals. Going to the National AAZK Conference was a great and wonderful opportunity, and I am very grateful that I was able to attend!
Keeper III, Mammals