Launching the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK)
1967 marked a shift for zoo animal care personnel in the U.S.: keepers from the San Diego Zoo founded the professional organization the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). San Diego Zoo keeper and co-founder Richard Sweeney (third from the right in this photo of the founders) served as the first president and was instrumental in recruiting members. This new organization established zookeeping in the public eye as a skilled profession that required particular education and expertise. Annual conferences, professional development opportunities, and information sharing among colleagues were just a few of the benefits for AAZK members. It was a great idea that grew and expanded rapidly, and chapters of AAZK are now found nationwide, with similar organizations in other countries.