The American Association of Zookeepers got its start at the San Diego Zoo in 1967, when zookeepers wanted to develop a way to continue their education and share their knowledge with their peers. Forming a nonprofit organization also enabled keepers in North America to organize national and regional conferences for zookeepers. Fundraising to support keeper conference attendance and local and international conservation organizations is another important function.

Local chapters were developed, which allowed keepers at different institutions to control where the funds they raised was utilized. These chapters also sponsor fun events like keeper picnics, dinners, and Bowling for Rhinos (BFR). Anyone can participate in BFR, which is an annual, hugely successful fundraising event. All of the proceeds support the conservation of rhino (and other important animal and plant species') habitat in Asia and Africa.

The national AAZK organization publishes the monthly journal, "The Animal Keepers' Forum."


Brookfield AAZK Chapter mission statement:
    Dedicated to zoo keeper professional growth, enhancing animal care, promoting public awareness, and contributing to conservation through fundraising and stewardship.
Some of the highlights of our achievements since our chapter formed at the end of 2004:
    • We raised $500 for the International Snow Leopard Trust.
    • Raised $50 for SOS Rhino by selling plant seed packets on Earth Day, and hosting a rock climbing wall during "Hug a Bug" weekend.
    • We have had social outings with the Lincoln Park chapter, and plan on assisting them with hosting their 2006 AAZK conference.
    • Had special topic lunchtime meetings about animal training.
    • Hosted a fundraiser on 13 October 2005 to support the Audubon institute, which was heavily effected by Hurricane Katrina. All zoo staff and volunteers were invited to attend to participate in a raffle and bid on animal- and zoo-related silent auction items. We raised $3350!
    • Beginning to collect broken brass padlocks and brass fire hose nozzles for recycling.
    • We raised almost half of the grant money to send a Brookfield zoo keeper to present a paper on geriatric sloth bears at the International Congress of Zookeeping conference in Australia in May 2006. Brookfield Zoo covered the rest of the cost.