HOi ZK 3The American Association of Zoo Keepers is a North American organization whose goal is to advance excellence in the animal keeping profession as well as increase communication between animal care professionals, support conservation projects and promote preservation of our natural resources and animal life. There are around 100 local AAZK chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

The Heart of Illinois Chapter of AAZK was formed in 2010 at the Peoria Zoo and is made up of interested keepers, volunteers and other zoo staff who support our main mission of raising money for animal conservation. We meet once a month (usually the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 PM at the zoo’s Wildlife Falls education room) to discuss our current and future fundraisers. Some of our current and ongoing fundraisers include “Race for Survival” and “Celebrate with a Gift” collection boxes in the Tropics Building at the zoo, regular staff bake sales, cook-offs and restaurant fundraisers, glow necklace sales at the Peoria Zoo’s Howl-Zoo-Ween and Wildlife Prairie Park’s Scary Park, and our annual Bowling for Rhinos event.

HOI AAZK Feature - Race for Survival

Race for COnservation

This year the HOI AAZK has set a goal to raise $500 for each of the four chosen conservation organizations.  In 2016, the chapter is raising funds for 1. Rainforest Trust, 2. Ewaso Lions, 3. Trees For You and Me and 4. Giraffe Conservation Foundation. 100% of the donations collected for each group will be given to the designated organization.  

Please stop by "Conservation Connections" at the zoo next time you visit to see who is winning the RACE!!!

HOI AAZK Feature - Celebrate with a Gift


The Heart of Illinois Chapter of AAZK collaborated with Peoria Zoo in 2015 to introduce a new area in the Tropics Building at Peoria Zoo called the Give a Gift Corner. The chapter runs the Celebrate with a Gift donation boxes while the zoo runs the Giving Tree. This is fun area where guests can take part in enriching the animals of Peoria Zoo and see photos from past donations. Whether you can give a little or the full amount, every bit brings a little joy to the animals of Peoria Zoo.

HOI AAZK is proud to have support the following organizations

If you have any questions about our group, please contact Paul Wenzel at [email protected]


HOI AAZK Board of Directors

Paul Wenzel, President

Katie Carlson, Vice President

Alyssa Brienen, Secretary

Kenny Lemon, Treasurer

Peoria Zoo

Peoria Zoo