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

2021 ASZK Photography Competition – Submissions closed!

2021 ASZK Wildlife Photography Competition

Fancy yourself as a bit of an aspiring wildlife photographer?

How would you like to see your very own shots on the front cover of the Thylacinus for all ASZK members to see?

It’s simple, the competition is open to anyone, so feel free to share with your friends. Here is all you need to know to get started…


Categories are:
1) Enrichment and Training – Show us your inspiring shots, great interactions, or utter enrichment bliss.
2) Funny Animal Moments – Show us your hilarious shots or candid moments. (You can add a small caption if you would like, 10 words max submitted with the image).
3) Animals in the Wild – Hit us with your best shot!
4) Artistic Animal shot – Let’s get creative!


Judging and Prizes

The ASZK committee will pick the two best photos in each category.

Then ASZK members can select their favourites! The best of each category will be displayed on the front cover of Thylacinus– the quarterly journal of the ASZK covering interesting updates in zookeeping from across the region.

Then, the People’s Choice (best of all categories) will earn its photographer honorary ASZK membership for a year!

Prints of the finalists may be auctioned off at the conference to assist with the Society’s ongoing objective of supporting the professional development of keepers in our region.

So get snapping, and let your photography earn you membership! Be sure to check Facebook to see some of the entries. Please stay tuned for more information about voting for your favourite photos!­­

Enrichment Survey – Big Cats

Charles Darwin University are conducting research in to environmental enrichment practices in zoos and other captive facilities. The research will span across multiple taxa, but is currently focusing on big cats. CDU has asked for our members to participate in a short survey. The below is from researcher Kat Tuite:

The purpose of the research project “Fostering enrichment in zoos” is to gain insights into the current enrichment practices that encourage positive animal welfare. This research aims to identify factors that both facilitate and limit enrichment progress in captive animal facilities. The outcomes from this project will be used to support people working with big cats in zoos, sanctuaries, rescue facilities and research centres. A summary of the results will be distributed widely to ensure that the keepers and managers invested in the wellbeing of their animals can continue building on existing practices, while also gaining access to the latest advancements in the field to raise the standard for big cat enrichment.

People working with big cats🐅 are invited to share insights from personal experiences in the BIG CAT ENRICHMENT survey. The survey is open to all keepers, head keepers, volunteers, and management staff:

Please circulate amongst your networks, every voice counts in making a better future for the welfare of our animals!


Don’t work with big cats? Keep an eye out for another survey coming soon into enrichment practices for all species of animals!

ASZK 2020 Conference – POSTPONED

ASZK Annual Conference 22-24 May 2020 Rockhampton

“Keeper Konnect 4” – connecting to our animals, wildlife, public and connecting public with wildlife.

Unfortunately the 2020 ASZK Annual Conference will be postponed until later in the year pending public health advice around Covid-19. We apologise for any inconvenience and we thank you for your understanding. We will be in touch with all registrants shortly to process full refunds, and we thank you for your patience while we work through this difficult situation

ASZK would like to invite you to attend the 2020 ASZK Annual Conference and AGM in Rockhampton, Queensland, 22-24 May.

Rockhampton is a unique destination which offers a number of wonderful opportunities to explore a new town and surrounds. Home to the Council-run Rockhampton Zoo housed within the Botanic Gardens, Conference delegates will get an opportunity to visit this unique zoo.

These ASZK Conferences offer zoo professionals a range of skill-development opportunities and is an especially supportive forum for people presenting at their first conference.

This year, Workshop topics will include animal training and also disaster management.

For information on the Conference please click here for our information package.

The Call for Papers is also open. Click here to submit an abstract for a paper or poster presentation, or a workshop concept – submissions close 15 March 2020.

If you or your organisation are interested in partnering with us in presenting this conference, click here for information on packages.

For more information please contact

Komodo and Large Varanid Workshop – October 2019

The ASZK and Reptile TAG are running a Large Varanid workshop! The workshop will be held in Alice Springs and run from October 21 – 23 and focusing on both the wild ecology and the captive management of Komodo dragons and other large varanid species. This is a great development opportunity for experienced and novice reptile keepers alike! The workshop will be followed on October 24 by a meeting of the Reptile TAG.

A portion of the proceeds from the workshop will be donated to the Komodo Survival Program!

Registration is now closed.

A big thank you to our sponsors who have made this event possible:

Gold sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Callout for ZAA Workshop Registration 2019


Thursday 2nd MAY Inaugural ASZK/ZAA Combined Workshop Day

We are proud to invite Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping (ASZK) members to attend the ZAA Workshops at member rates. Day 2 (Thursday, 2nd May) of the Program has been specifically arranged with ASZK attendees in mind. The 2019 ASZK Annual Conference is being held in Parramatta (Sydney) 3-5 May, straight after the ZAA Workshops. Click here for more information.

Original mail out from ZAA below:

Don’t forget to register for the ZAA Learning & Development Workshops 2019.

The 2019 Workshops are taking place in Sydney 1 – 3 May and the theme for this year is A to ZAA: Connecting the Dots. It will focus on covering the key areas of work for the ZAA Membership and how we can all work together to achieve outcomes.

Instructions for Registration

Event tickets are available for the full three-day event or for a single day of workshops. Workshop sessions are limited so make sure you register before places are full. Members prices are applicable to:

  • All ZAA Members
  • Employees from member organisations of ZAA
  • ASZK members

After selecting your ticket type, please register for each workshop session you will attend. As there are limited spaces in the workshop sessions, some will become unavailable once registrations reach capacity.

Have the event program handy to help you select workshop sessions you wish to attend and avoid double-booking yourself. Please note the following:

  • Multiple sessions: Some workshops will go over more than one time-slot and therefore have multiple parts that require selection. Please take care that if you select Part 1 of a session, you are expected to attend the full session provided that day, and therefore you will need to select Part 2 (and potentially Part 3) in succeeding time-slots.
  • Leadership training (Part 1 and 2) – this is an additional cost ($100 +GST) to registration given that facilitation has been secured via an external supplier, and will be confirmed once the required number of 30 delegates are registered. Once confirmed, we will invoice for the additional cost.
  • Ethical framework workshop (Part 1, 2, and 3) – As there are limited spaces for this workshop we would like to invite one representative from each member organisation to submit an expression of interest, with final invitations being granted (via panel decision) to 50 delegates that best represent our diverse membership (Private, Owner/Operator, Government, Other).

Please contact if you would like to go on the waiting list for a fully-booked session.

ASZK 2019 Wildlife Photography Comp. Entries NOW CLOSED.

Once again you have inundated us with lots of amazing wildlife images!

We are thrilled to have receieved such high quality images. We can’t wait to share them with our members.

The ASZK committee will be reviewing all submissions and announcing finalists very shortly.

All finalists will have their works displayed at the ASZK Annual Conference in Parramatta, Sydney from MAy 3-5. Delegates will be asked to vote for the “People’s Choice Award” and the winning image will feature on the next cover of Thylacinus and feature on the ASZK website.

A big thank you to all the wildlife photographers who submitted.

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