Summary: Zookeepers oversee and care for different kinds of animals such as reptiles, land mammals, birds, amphibians and fishes and marine mammals in a zoo. They are the one responsible for the dietary requirements of zoo animals, maintaining records of the animals and providing zoo managers with valuable information such as the behavior, health issues, conservation efforts and environmental factors that can be very beneficial to both the zoo and animals. They also educate visitors and answer their inquiries regarding the animals in the zoo.
Duties: Beside the basic duties such as feeding, watering, cleaning and bathing the animals, zookeepers are also responsible repairing the animals’ tanks or cages. Because animals must be fed daily, zookeepers sometime have to work weekends and holidays. Since there are animals that only eats at night, zookeepers may sometimes have to visit the zoo at night just to feed them. They have to log information about the animals and learn about them. The information is then relayed to the zoo manager for evaluation. Zookeepers also have to be knowledgeable about each animal in the zoo to answer visitors’ questions and provide them educational information.
Education and Training Requirements: To be a zookeeper, one must have an associate degree. However, most employers seeks a bachelor’s degree such as zoology, animal science, wildlife management, conservation biology or any related fields of study. If one wants to work for an aquariums or zoos under a local government, he or she has to complete a civil service examination. Zoologists, veterinarians and curators are known to have a more advanced degrees.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: To be successful in the field, one should also possess the necessary skills besides the degree in animal science or any related studies. These skills include physical stamina, patience, flexibility, sensitivity, communications skills and problem solving capabilities. It is quite exciting to work with animals; however the job requires a strong stomach to bear animal biology aspects.
Working Conditions: A special kind of dedication is needed to be a zookeeper. They don’t work in a cozy environment and most of the time the job comes with certain risks. They enter the field because of their love for animals. The smell of animals and their waste may not be for everyone and zookeepers get the satisfaction as long as they are able to help them.
Salary: Being a zookeeper is not a high-paying job considering the hard academic requirements to be one. Zookeepers who did not complete the education requirements receive about $28,000 annually. Those who hold a degree in any related field gets $40,000 above per year.