Best Practices in Animal Keeping (formerly Advances in Animal Keeping) covers the essentials of animal keeping across all taxa. The course focuses on the very highest standards in animal husbandry, in combination with problem solving, team building and interpersonal skills. You will engage with professional colleagues and apply what you learn back at your home institution. The goal of this course is to motivate and retain animal care professionals within our industry and to elevate the standards of animal care in AZA-affiliated zoos and aquariums. In-class discussion, exchange of ideas with animal care colleagues, small group activities, and question-and-answer sessions all enable students to analyze trends, think critically, evaluate problems and propose solutions, and to communicate effectively with other members of their organization.
After completing this course participants will be better able to:
Jacque Blessington, Lakeside Nature Center
Shane Good, Curator - Akron Zoo
Dr. Chris Hanley, Chief Veterinarian - Saint Louis Zoo
Larry Killmar, PhD, VP Animals, Science, & Conservation - Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Dawn Neptune, Behavioral Programs Manager - Utah's Hogle Zoo
Malia Somerville, General Curator - Buffalo Zoo
This course is targeted toward currently employed animal care professionals. Curricula will be challenging for individuals new to the field of zoo keeping and is designed for those who have zoo/aquarium animal care experience.
None. Priority will be given to AZA members, but volunteers and private animal trainers are welcome to attend. Those not affiliated with an AZA-accredited institution will be considered on a case-by-case basis; please submit a letter describing your intended benefit from taking this course to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
- Student registration
- Opening evening ceremony
- Courses meet for individual opening session/class
- Class meets all day
- Class meets
- Closing Ceremony
Attendance for course participants is required for the duration of the course until the evening of the last day. As a result, individuals generally depart the following day. Attendees will receive a detailed schedule for their course after their registration is confirmed.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) is the closest airport. Course participants will stay at a designated hotel downtown and are transported to the Buffalo Zoo for class each day.
General Hotel Pricing*:
$130+ for Two Queen Beds
Please wait until you are admitted into the course before making your reservations. You will receive an email containing detailed information regarding your accommodations and transportation once you are admitted.
The AZA registration fee below covers tuition and lunches for each day of the course. Other expenses include hotel, travel, and other meals. Registration prices are subject to change.
Scholarship funding for courses is available through a competitive process. AZA scholarship applications are due by mid-July and are awarded by early September.
Early Bird Rates:
$875 for AZA Individual Members
$975 for Non-members
Registration deadline: 12 weeks prior to course start date
$975 for AZA Individual Members
$1075 for Non-members
Final registration deadline: 4 weeks prior to course start date
Accepted forms of payment for registration are by: credit card, check or purchase order. Registration for this course will remain open until all of our available registered and wait-listed spots are reserved.
*Prices are sbject to change
To register with a credit card
You may now register and pay online with a credit card! Non-members can log in too, after creating a free account. After logging in, choose "Professional Development" from the menu on the left. Next, click on the title of the event for which you would like to register. Finally, choose "Event Registration" from the options at the top and complete the registration process. When registering online, there is no need to submit the registration form. You will receive an acceptance email or wait list email once acceptance decisions are made.
To register with a check or purchase order
Download the BPAK Course Registration Form and return by mail with check or purchase order. Checks sent for course payment will be cashed immediately upon receipt as per standard business practices. Cashing your check does not indicate that you have been accepted into a course. You will receive an acceptance email or a wait list email once acceptance decisions are made. If you are not admitted into the course from the waitlist, a full refund will be issued within 45 days following the course event. For more information regarding registration and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page.
Questions? For additional details please contact the AZA Professional Development Department.