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5 Comments Already

chris51582 Said,
May 20th, 2011 @2:50 pm  

If it is something you want to do then don’t worry about the pay. Too many people said teaching doesn’t pay enough but when I can come home from a job that I love doing that is pay enough as far as education

Here is what I have found regarding educational and training requirements.

Training and Experience:

We are seeking a zoo professional with demonstrated knowledge of modern zoo operations, animal care, personnel management and sound business practices. This person will manage the day-to-day operations of the zoo including both the animal department and the general supervision of the zoo operations such as concessions, admissions, grounds care, etc. We are seeking a person with high ethical standards. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 3- 5 years of progressive experience in an accredited zoo operation. An Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology or Animal Sciences is strongly desired. Candidates without a degree but possessing a minimum of 5 years of progressive zoo experience will be considered

leolupus Said,
May 20th, 2011 @3:49 pm  

I used to be a zookeeper, and got the job without any qualifications other than GCSEs. Having qualifications is no guarantee of getting the job (my boss told me he’s had people come in with degrees who didn’t know which end an elephant craps out of!), and not having them is no guarantee you won’t get the job. Experience with animals is generally more important, so volunteering at the zoo will definitely help.

As you know, the pay is generally quite poor – I earned minimum wage. Many people want to work with animals, so they don’t need to tempt workers with high pay. The hours are long and you may not be paid for any overtime worked – in the zoo I worked at, you were paid only between 8am and 5pm, even if you arrived at 6.30am and didn’t leave til 7pm. You are also required to work weekends and public holidays without additional pay.

The work is physically very hard, and you have to deal with people, in the shape of the public, as much as with animals. Indeed, there is often little interaction with the animals you care for – the majority of the job is cleaning (picking up faeces, sweeping up straw, window cleaning, etc.). Also, you often do not have a choice as to which animals you work with. Most zoos will simply take you on as a keeper and place you where you are needed, though you can request to work with certain animals if and when a position with them becomes available.

I’m not sure what qualifications you would require to become a curator or manager, but I’d imagine some sort of business degree. Note that if it’s working with animals you enjoy, curators and managers do not really get involved in this – they run the zoo, doing things such as ordering the animals’ food, paying the staff, and arranging the acquisition of animals from other zoos for breeding and so on.

leo g Said,
May 20th, 2011 @4:21 pm  

none. the best way to learn what you love doing is to do it. Continue volunteering and working hard, but also try to meet as many people in the zoology field as possible, a.k.a.- networking. These are the people who will eventually help you propel your career/passion in the future. They will guide you on your journey, and you will figure the rest out on your own.

If your journey eventually leads you to a classroom, then so be it – that’s fine. But YOUR journey may lead you to another country or another exciting passion altogether instead. So control your own destiny, don’t let some college curriculum or some professor control and define it for you.

sarah w Said,
May 20th, 2011 @4:27 pm  

First of all, no one can tell you if its a wise career choice or not, only you will be able to know that. You need to be willing to travel (you go where the job takes you), ok with your life not being your own (animals dont care its Christmas or your birthday, or hurricanes/tornadoes for that matter) and very flexible. I went to school to become a zookeeper and the first thing they stress is that you do not do the job to make money. Being a zookeeper is completely a labor of love. With it come the most amazing perks (and I do mean the most AMAZING!!!) but money is definitely not one of them. I was very, very fortunate to get into a program specifically designed for zookeeping. Its called the Santa Fe Zoo Animal Technology Program. Its located in Gainesville, Florida. You actually go to school at a zoo and a large part of your schooling is working in the zoo as a keeper. Its the only one in the entire country, AZA accredited (the highest zoo accreditation) and highly sought after. People come from all over the country and world to go there. If you have any interest at all its the place to be. You can get all the info you know at (if that link doesnt work for some reason go to and click on zoo on the right lower side). I can tell you from experience, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was able to do and be apart of some really awesome things. It was a ton of hard work but worth it all. The first semester youre there will help you decide if that really what you want to do so you dont waste your time if its not. Plus they help you get ready to work in the field. They teach you everything you’ll ever need to know and have amazing contacts, they have a 90% job placement rating for graduating students. Tons of graduates are now curators at zoos across the country. Linda Asbell is the contact at the zoo you’d want to talk to if you have any questions. They all are really nice and helpful, plus everyone there has the same passion and drive that you do which is really great! Good luck! If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

Area Woman Said,
May 20th, 2011 @5:17 pm  

If you already volunteer at a zoo, you need to chat up the keepers and staff at the zoo. Ask them about their experiences with animals and what kind of studies they needed to undertake to get where they are now. Ask the senior level keepers there (politely) if you can have an informational interview with them. No begging. People hate that. (I used to give informational interviews for my field and stopped because too many people whined about their prospects and shoved resumes into my hands.) Just ask questions about how they like their jobs, what they do and what sort of training they had. (I did that with a zoo curator. It took five minutes and the rest was gossiping about the latest baby animal.) If you want to be a curator or administrator of some sort, it would be a good idea to take coursework in how *people* work because you will be managing people as much as shuttling resources around for the animals.

By the way, see to joining zoological organizations and getting on discussion groups for them. Its a good way to network, but again make sure to ask informational questions and not make job requests until someone posts a job posting.

Other folks have talked about the low pay. Make sure you have an exit strategy in case it gets tough to make ends meet.

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