Zoo keepers from around the world flock to Syracuse

At the Rosamond Gifford Zoo zoo keepers from around the world are getting a chance to see the zoo's animals up close and personal.

More than 200 zoo keepers are at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo this week for the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) national conference.

Rosamond Gifford zoo keeper Ashlea Vilello says the focus of the conference this week will be education. Educating zoo keepers about new ways to protect animals and educating the public about the important role zoo's play in the protection of endangered species.

Zoo Keeper Luitzan Santman came all the way from the Congo where he works to protect guerilla's and other primates from extinction.

"They're very much endangered, if you look at the chimpanzees about a hundred years ago the population was about one million, now we think the population is about 150,000 in the wild. So the populations are declining and without help they will not survive," Santman says.

Dayna Sherwood, a zoo keeper from the San Francisco Zoo, says she is impressed with the number and variety of animals at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

"The San Francisco Zoo is 70 acres, this zoo is quite a bit smaller but it still has amazing animals. We don't have elephants at the zoo and you guys have some really great elephants," Sherwood says.

"If endangered species don't have a safe place a zoo is a good place to increase their numbers in the safest way possible for those animals and to let people know what issues those animals may be facing in the wild," Vilello says.

This yearâ??s conference runs through September 27.