The first International Zoo Docent Conference was held in Houston in October 1985 where 35 zoos were represented. The following year in Kansas City, delegates from 41 zoos and aquariums established guidelines, chose the name Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents (AZAD), created bylaws and a newsletter: Symbiosis. In 2013, the name was changed to Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents and Volunteers (AZADV) to better reflect the expanding roles of zoo volunteers.
Since the first conference in Kansas City, there has been an international conference/delegate’s meeting each year at the following zoos: Los Angeles Zoo; Baltimore Zoo and Baltimore Aquarium; Columbus Zoo; San Antonio Zoo; Phoenix Zoo; Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo; Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo; Cleveland Metroparks Zoo; Portland Zoo (now Oregon Zoo); Saint Louis Zoo; Zoo Atlanta; Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Denver Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Houston Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, National Zoo in Washington DC, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Saint Louis Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Memphis Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo.
Aside from the National Conferences, the 2008 delegate’s Meeting was at Riverside Zoo in Scottsbluff, NE. Two regional conferences were hosted in 2009: Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium/National Aviary and Phoenix Zoo. The regional conference in 2013 was at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.
Attendance has grown from 185 to a record of 800 in Saint Louis(‘96.)