How to Be a Zookeeper

The Zookeeper Job Overview:

A zookeeper is a one of the most important and visible parts of a zoo park's team. They provide direct daily care for the animals in a variety of ways such as feeding, training, cleaning, etc. It is oftentimes one of the most highly sought after positions in a zoo due to the unique nature of the zookeeper position and because of its close interaction with the animals.

Education Needed to be a Zookeeper:

There usually is no traditional education required to become a zookeeper, however having a degree in biology, plants or husbandry is valuable asset in the search for a zookeeper position. The best way to train and gain a higher chance of finding a zookeeper position is to start early in the career process by interning or working at places such as veterinary offices, zoos (in a less direct animal care position), animals shelters and farms to gain experience in working with animals or just merely to work in an environment with animals around throughout the day. This can help in the process of securing a position as a zookeeper as a person with direct or indirect animal experience is more likely to get the job over those who do not.

Other Requirements to be a Zookeeper:

A person who wishes to be a zookeeper should have a natural affinity with animals as they will be with them fairly continuously throughout the day. Also, they should have no fear or prejudices towards animals as this will inhibit their position as zookeeper and could endanger not only themselves, but the animals and those around them as well. They should also be willing and able to spend large amounts of their day in the sweltering heat and the bitter cold at all times of the day or night throughout the year. A zookeeper should also be able to communicate well and be comfortable talking in front of large groups as many zookeepers give guided tours at times as well.

Advancement as a Zookeeper:

A zookeeper has a fair amount of room for advancement in a zoological park or private animal preserve such as going back to school to receive further education such as acquiring a doctorate in zoology to become a zoologist who specializes in the medical and healthy wellbeing of the animals in the zoo. They can also return to school to become more educated on a particular animal species that they prefer, becoming an authority on the particular animal and dealing exclusively with them. There are also opportunities to take on managerial or supervisory positions in the zoo such as being the direct supervisor for a team of zookeepers or zoologists, or they can take their knowledge and apply it to teaching others about being a zookeeper as a trainer or program instructor.

Future Prospect for Jobs as a Zookeeper:

The future prospects for a zookeeper are good and zookeepers should have a good chance of continuing employment as a zookeeper in the years to come, however the zookeeper field is not expected to get a large boost in demand for more in the career field in the future.

Expected Salary as a Zookeeper:

The annual salary of a zookeeper varies based upon education, geographic location and experience. The career is not one that a person should expect to get rich off of as the pay generally is not great. On average zookeepers makes about $25,000 or £15,500, but this amount can be lowered or higher based upon the reasons above as well as whether or not the person is just entering the zookeeper career field or has a lengthy experience in it.

A Day-in-the-Life of a Zookeeper:

Typical zookeeper activities can vary based upon the amount and species of animals in their care, but generally include:

  • Preparing food for the animals based upon the individual dietary needs
  • Cleaning all cages and animal enclosures
  • Following all handling and safety procedures
  • Keeping a update to date record of all animals in their care regarding eating habits, mating habits, interact with other animals, interactions with humans, etc.
  • Coordinating with other zoo staff to ensure the proper care of all the animals in their care


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