In recognition of the dedication of zoo and aquarium professionals, the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) (www.aazk.org) and zoos and aquariums across the nation celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week July 19-25. As the premier training facility for zoo keepers in the United States, the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo will host a fun-filled week of activities to acknowledge the passion and hard work of the students in the Zoo Animal Technology program.
In the last few decades, the role of a zoo keeper has expanded from the realm of animal care to that of educators and ambassadors. Zoo keepers and aquarists devote countless hours, weekends and holidays to providing exceptional care to the animals in their charge including feeding, cleaning, training, designing enrichments and natural enclosures, and providing the highest standards in medical treatments. Now, on top of tending to the exhausting responsibilities laid out for them every day, keepers have embraced the task of educating the public on the preservation of wildlife and their natural habitats.
The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), offers a five-term program which trains students for a career in the management of animals in a captive setting. The Zoo Animal Technology program challenges students academically and physically to ensure they are trained in the technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for careers and further education in animal related positions. Graduates from the program have gone on to pursue careers in zoo keeping, animal training, field research, veterinary care, conservation, zoo education and exhibit design.
To honor the commitment of our students, the Teaching Zoo has organized an eventful week of activities culminating in a “Zookeeper Olympics” on Wednesday, July 22 at 5 p.m. Teams will compete against each other in skills including animal identification and animal capture and restraint.
Guests can visit with our students at the Teaching Zoo, who we affectionately call “Zooies,” seven days a week from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children, seniors and UF students. Admission is free for children age 3 and under and Santa Fe College students and staff. Come see the keepers’ continued enthusiasm and dedication to the conservation of wildlife and wild places.