The American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) is a membership association for animal care professionals. As a Non-profit 501c (3) organization one hundred percent of the funds raised goes towards conservation and the professional development of our keepers.
AAZK is dedicated to advancing animal care, promoting public awareness, enhancing professional development and contributing to local and global conservation through fundraising and stewardship. Our goal is to inspire and motivate through our roles as animal caregivers, educators and conservationists.
The Jacksonville chapter of AAZK was founded in 1988, and has since grown into a premier chapter in the field. We currently have over 30 members and are looking to expand our membership in the near future. AAZK members are also members of our sister organization, the International Congress of Zookeepers. The ICZ is a worldwide network among zookeepers and other professionals in the field of wildlife care and conservation.
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President – LeShea Cochu
Vice President – Tirzah Nichols
Treasurer – Janel Jankowski
Secretary – Jackie Schweigerdt
Conservation Officers - Kori Odum & Bonnie Gallagher
AAZK would like to thank everyone that supported the chapter in 2020! Despite the difficult year, we were still able to donate over $31,000 to multiple organizations. The Zoo's C.A.R.E. committee also graciously matched our amount allocated for conservation projects to make a larger impact.
AAZK collects donations though individual general fund donations, plus from Zoo guests at the coin funnel in Wild Florida, parking meter in Range of the Jaguar, donation box on the Rhino Overlook, and Keeper for a Day programs.
Please take a moment to view the events and organizations we were able to contribute to in 2020:
Fundraisers: Bowling for Rhinos and Okapitoberfest
Conservation Projects: Talarak Foundation, Inc., Flight: Protecting Indonesia's birds, Bongo Surveillance Trust, SaveNature.org (Parking meter in Range of the Jaguar), and Vulpro
There are several ways to learn more and gain valuable experience. Explore resources provided by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). You can also become a volunteer at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to learn more about the industry and animal care. We also offer our Keeper for a Day program to give you a first-hand look at what it takes to be a keeper!