Origins of ICZ Congress

The genesis for the first ICZ occurred at a meeting at the AAZK conference, held in Columbus (Ohio, USA) in 2000.

Representatives at this meeting were from the seven major regional Keeper associations of professional zoo keeping.

As a result of this meeting it was believed that a common conference for zoo keepers from around the world would not only improve the levels of communication between keepers from different regions, but also serve as a basis for supporting the development of zoo keeping as a profession in regions where zoo keeping associations did not currently exist.


The primary objectives for holding a conference for zoo keepers at an international level was to promote the development and application of professional animal welfare and husbandry techniques amongst zoo keepers, which would in turn benefit the wild animals under their care, and contribute to the conservation of wildlife.

Inaugural Congress

The first ICZ was held at Avifauna in the Netherlands in October 2003.

In the time since the first ICZ the founding representatives from the seven professional keeper associations have agreed to work together in developing the group into a formal association. Over 300 keepers from 27 different countries attended the conference and there were a variety of workshops, paper presentations and other developmental opportunities were included in the programme.

In addition, the tours to a number of zoological facilities in the region allowed everybody to view 'behind the scenes' and experience some of the most modern practices in animal husbandry, exhibit design, visitor and education facilities.

After the first congress, ICZ's members decided to continue organising an international congress every three years.