2023 AGM

For nearly half a century, the ASZK has remained a foundation in supporting keeper development and upskilling animal care professionals across the Australasian Region and our expanding industry.

The annual general meeting of the ASZK will be held virtually on Sunday April 16th at 4 p.m. AEST. Join us to learn more about your society and upcoming events, including our 2022 Conference. This is an election year and the ASZK is calling for nominations for all Committee positions. The nomination form can be found here.

The minutes from the 2022 AGM can be accessed here.

Proxy voting forms can be found here.

Please RSVP to membership@aszk.org.au by Friday 14th April. The meeting will be held on Zoom, and a link will be sent to all members who have RSVP’d.

ATC 2023 Conference




For further information and to register

Click here

Volunteer Opportunities

Have you ever wanted to contribute to Conservation on the ground in the Wild? Here is an amazing opportunity to volunteer to help some of Borneo’s most iconic wildlife including Orangutan and Sun Bears. Click below to find out more.


Orangutan Volunteer Program


Sumatran Ranger Project

Sumatran Ranger Project will be constructing a predator-proof livestock corral in a forest edge community in North Sumatra, in May 2023. There are limited opportunities for zookeepers to be involved in a hands-on capacity with this project, starting May 1, 2023. The trip is coordinated by Sumatran Ranger Project leader and Deputy Mammal Curator at Auckland Zoo, Amy Robbins. It is over 8 days, some of which will involve construction of the corral in addition to time spent with the ranger team on a patrol route. There is also a day of relaxation and fun, tubing and exploring the local rivers. You don’t need to be hugely fit, but a reasonable level of fitness and ability to work in the heat is necessary.  Please contact Amy directly on sumatranrangers@gmail.com for more information. Getting there is easy from Australia or New Zealand and Amy can advise you of dates and timings and assist with any other questions. See attached itinerary for a daily schedule.

Livestock Corral Itinerary 2023

Calling all Invertebrate Keepers

For more information visit Minibeast Wildlife

Call for papers can be found here

Draft program can be found here

Numbers are limited so register here now


Conference organisers and facilitators:

Jessie Sinclair (Melbourne Zoo),  Deanna Henderson (Minibeast Wildlife) and Alan Henderson (Minibeast Wildlife)


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2022 Annual General Meeting

For nearly half a century, the ASZK has remained a foundation in supporting keeper development and upskilling animal care professionals across the Australasian Region and our expanding industry.

The annual general meeting of the ASZK will be held virtually on Saturday May 14th at 2 p.m. AEST. Join us to learn more about your society and upcoming events, including our 2022 Conference.

The minutes from the 2021 AGM can be accessed here. The agenda for the 2022 AGM can be accessed here.

Proxy voting forms can be found here.

Please RSVP to treasurer@aszk.org.au by Monday 9th May. The meeting will be held on Zoom, and a link will be sent to all members who have RSVP’d the week before the meeting.

Zoo Animals and Covid

The Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) has put out the following information around zoo animals and Covid-19

Australia and New Zealand are moving into a new stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in which we live with a certain amount of the virus circulating in our communities, with high vaccination rates and certain health measures protecting people.

 Through most of the pandemic, we have been fortunate to have either very low or no community spread whilst our zoos and aquariums have been open to the public, which has made the risk of our animals contracting COVID-19 incredibly low.

 As we shift to living with COVID-19, strict biosecurity protocols for the species most at risk of contracting the virus are more important than ever. Global monitoring shows that overseas whilst most cases of animals with COVID-19 seem to present with only mild symptoms, COVID-associated deaths have now been reported in a number of lions, snow leopards, and beavers.

These cases in animals are considered to have been acquired from humans and, in some instances, transmission has occurred despite staff being vaccinated and biosecurity protocols being in place.

We strongly suggest that members re-evaluate the risk to their animals with advice from their veterinarian, particularly in consideration to the species currently known to be at risk of contracting COVID-19:

  • Carnivora
    • Canids – domestic dog, raccoon dog
    • Felids – domestic cat, fishing cat, tiger, lion, cougar, snow leopard
    • Hyaenidae – spotted hyena
    • Mustelids – domestic ferret, American mink, Asian small-clawed otter
    • Procyonids – coati
    • Viverrids – binturong
  • Primates – gorilla, African green monkey, macaque species, baboon, grivet, common marmoset
  • Artiodactyla
    • Cervids – white-tailed deer
    • Suids – domestic pig
    • Hippopotamus – common hippo, river hippo
  • Pteropodids – Egyptian fruit bat
  • Rodents – beaver, hamster, bank vole laboratory mice (only with more recent COVID-19 variants),
  • Leporids – domestic rabbit
  • Tupaiids – tree shrew

Transmission of COVID-19 from animals back to humans has to date only been reported with farmed mink. Although the virus likely originated via transmission from bats to humans, there is no current evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. However, a cautious approach may consider potential risks around transmission from animals to humans.

We have worked with the ZAA Veterinary SAG to develop a position statement, available to read on the ZAA Portal. Please note that as new information continues to become available this position statement will not be provided as a downloadable file whilst changes continue to be made. If you have trouble accessing the ZAA Portal, please contact admin@zooaquarium.org.au

ZAA continues to monitor the roll out of the Zoetis veterinary COVID vaccine to zoo animals in the US. This vaccine is not available in Australia and New Zealand. Importation would require approval and registration by the relevant jurisdiction’s government authority. The Vet SAG are doing some early exploration of future options for vaccination in this region.”

Animal Care Professionals Survey

The University of Tasmania is conducting research in to the resilience, wellbeing and mental health needs of animal care professionals. The study hopes to:

  1. Identify resilience and wellbeing (both positive and negative) of animal care professionals in Australia.
  2. Identify what individual and workplace resources would benefit these individuals.
  3. Develop readily accessible resources to promote resilience and positive wellbeing in animal care professionals.

This subject is obviously very relevant to the zookeeping community and this study will hopefully have some very tangible results for ASZK members. Those who complete the survey can enter a draw for one of six $50 Coles/Myer gift vouchers.

If you would like more information about the study, you can read the pdf provided by the University of Tasmania here.

To participate in the study click here.

The survey closes July 31, 2020.

Des Spittall Scholarship for Keeper Development


The Australasian Society of Zookeeping operates and manages the annual ‘Des Spittall Scholarship for Keeper Development’, which is available to any ASZK member who has been a financial member for two years or more. The annual scholarship is named in honour of the late Des Spittall, a life member of ASZK. It is to the value of $3,000 and has been established to support the professional development of zoo keepers in the Australasian region. More than one smaller scholarships may be issued if there are requests for less than $3,000 dependant on merit.

Scholarship applications can be sought for the following (but not exclusive) types of activities;

  • Research projects
  • Undertaking volunteer work on conservation projects
  • Working on community change or capacity building projects
  • Undertaking study either in Australia or overseas (overseas study will only be supported if nothing comparable is in Australia or New Zealand)
  • Attending a conference or workshop
  • Study tour of zoos or institutions

Prospective applicants are invited to submit a written proposal for their intended proposition, outlining in as much detail as possible the aim, purpose and the anticipated outcomes of the activity. This includes how the activity may support development of colleagues.

All applications are then evaluated by the ASZK Scholarship Committee within a fortnight of the closing date with applicants informed shortly after.

Successful applicants will be required to submit a report at the end of their project term detailing outcomes and expenditure records. An article for Thylacinus, or a presentation to the ASZK or ICZ annual conference on the project is also encouraged.

Applications close 1 March 2020. Download an application form here.

More information can be found by contacting Liz Romer at eo@aszk.org.au

What does it mean to be a Zoo Keeper?

When I think about what it means to be a keeper, what thoughts does it evoke? At first, there is the obvious one…passion. Keepers are deeply passionate about their profession and the animals they care for. But if we take a moment to peel back the layers, we find that there is much more to these individuals than first meets the eye.

Other thoughts such a dedicated, empathetic, nurturing, studious and multi-skilled jump to mind. These comfortably rest alongside quirky, diverse, spirited and unique.

If we all zoom out for just a minute, it’s easy to acknowledge that without zoo keepers, there is no zoo. This extraordinary cohort is the glue that binds the entire operation together. Zoo keeping is a fluid career, one that grows from a solid foundation of basic fundamentals and understanding what it is that we need to provide in order for the animals in our care to live happy and healthy lives. From this, many branches shoot off in a range of different directions and thus, zoo keepers really do become the ultimate ‘jack of all trades’.

During the course of any given week, a keeper may well indeed be required to contribute to a vast array of different elements of daily zoological operations. These may include, but certainly are not limited to: presentations, media, record keeping, exhibit design, construction, maintenance, cleaning, project management, teaching, mobile exhibiting, triage, vet nursing, first aid, behavioural biology, animal training, diving, horticulture, landscaping and rehabilitation…but to name just a few.

Zoo keepers also provide a vital cog in the global effort to conserve our planet and its species. Whether it’s the keeper delivering an educational talk in a small wildlife park, to an aquarist informing guests on the threat of plastics, to those that devote their personal time and energy to in-situ efforts all over the world. By the very nature of the role, zoo keepers acquire skills and knowledge that are so unique, they often provide the missing link to stagnating conservation projects and recovery programs.

October 4 is International Zookeeper Day and is proudly sponsored by the International Congress of Zoo Keepers (ICZ), which is a conglomerate of the world’s zoo keeping associations. This day was first chosen by the staff of Barcelona Zoo, given it is also celebrated worldwide as the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. He is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment, and, since 1979, the Patron Saint of Ecology. He preached that it is the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature. Many of the stories that surround the life of St. Francis say that he had a great love for animals and the environment.

Today is a day for celebrating and acknowledging the incredible contribution of keepers throughout the world. On behalf of Taronga, I’d like to thank the dedicated teams at both our zoos for their tireless efforts and commitment to animals and our environment.

Mike Drinkwater, President of the Australasian Society of Zookeeping

Original article: Taronga Conservation Society Australia