5 Zoo Jobs to Consider

A zoo is like a small bustling town for both animals and the guests that come to the zoo, and like any town, many people are needed for a variety of zoo jobs including zoo keepers, zoologists, veterinarians, educators, and customer care workers.

Zoo keepers are responsible for the care and feeding of the animals in the zoo, and they are usually responsible for one particular type of animal. For example, in a larger zoo, you may find zoo keepers who care for primates, other for reptiles and some may specialize within that larger group, so one zoo keeper for gorillas and another for chimpanzees. The zoo keepers are responsible for the feeding, including the nutritional needs and diets, so it is more complex than filling a trough, the care of facility, which can also include appropriate toys and mental stimulation activity for the animals. They may be the first to observe illnesses or behavioral issues experienced by animals in zoos, so they are responsible for keeping records on care, feeding and behavior. They will also provide education to the public about the animals in their care, so they are expected to provide public presentations to zoo visitors. Most zoo keepers will have a degree in animal biology or sciences.

A  zoologist studies animals, their behavior, structure and evolution. A zoologist is a trained scientist, who usually has a graduate degree in zoology, an animal biological science. In zoos, a zoologist may research the animal to improve its care and to make observations about how the animal behaves in the zoo and with its own groups in captivity. The zoologist’s observations on animals in captivity as well as animals in their own habitat will influence the care of the animals in captivity, and they often work in tandem with the zoo keepers and zoo administrators to ensure that the animal is well cared for.

Veterinarians are a necessary part of zoo activity since they can diagnose medical conditions, provide medication, treat wounds and sores and perform surgery if necessary. Veterinarians will also assist in breeding in captivity programs, which could include mating as well as insemination, especially if the animal faces extinction in the wild. These veterinarians receive similar training as the veterinarians we take our domesticated animals to, so they need an undergraduate degree as well as a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Educators play an important part in zoos and they provide education to the visitors of the zoos. Educators will provide public talks and presentations, and they may visit classrooms in the community and guide field trips in the zoo, and are generally available to interpret exhibits in the zoo. Educators in zoos are usually zoo keepers, but some are former teachers or other educators who love animals but who are also very good at dealing with the public.

Customer care workers can include admissions, concessions, security and custodians, as well as gift shop workers and administrators for the zoo. A zoo visitor's attention is usually focused on the animals in the zoo, but without customer care, the zoo could not admit visitors to the zoo facility.