A Zoo Keeping career involves long hours, starting early and finishing late. Your days will be varied and challenging and you will need to work rain or shine, so a love of the outdoors and a passion for working with animals is a must. In just one working day a variety of tasks must be performed such as food preparation, feeding, cleaning enclosures and checking the health of the residents. It doesn’t matter what the weather – blistering heat or a snow storm, the animals still need to be cared for. There will be other tasks not directly related to animal care such as helping to maintain the surrounds of the zoo and possibly talking to visitors. Much of the work will be physically demanding and involve getting your hands dirty. Check out a typical day in the life of a Zoo Keeper.
If you’re unsure whether a Zoo Keeping career is for you, you could approach your local zoo to ask whether they have any voluntary part time positions available. This could be a good place to start as you’ll be getting your ‘foot in the door’ while finding out whether being a zoo keeper really is for you.
Each zoo will have slightly different selection criteria, so you can approach them directly or check out their website, such as Sydney’s Taronga Zoo which lets you know the enrolment process. They may encourage you to enrol in a training course in caring for captive animals, such as those offered by Open Colleges. Experience with animals will be an advantage, such as past voluntary work at rescue centres or even other zoos.
Open Colleges, where you can train for a certificate in captive animal care, has some great information on Zoo Keeper careers, including statistics and salaries.