The educational requirements for an entry level zoo keeper vary and there are specialist courses on Animal Management and Zoology available at colleges and universities.
Competition for zoo keeping jobs is fierce and although having good qualifications is a valuable asset, practical animal care experience will put you ahead of the pack. Doing work experience or regular volunteering at your local zoo is an excellent way to get your face known. However, working with domestic animals or native wildlife is also great preparation for zoo work; sanctuaries, stables, kennels or catteries, for example. Most importantly, if you get the chance to get some experience, do it well, work hard, be enthusiastic and amenable.
Zoo keeping is a demanding job requiring dedication, commitment and patience. Keepers must be prepared to work weekends and public holidays (even Christmas Day). Caring for animals is not a 9-5 occupation; keepers frequently end up working unpaid overtime and need to be flexible about their days off. They must be reliable people who are willing to learn and improve their performance in a co-operative setting.
Long Term Volunteers
We occasionally have opportunities for long term Volunteers for a period of 6 – 12 months assisting within our animal management departments.
The opportunities will be a recommended 3-4 days a week, with an 8.30am start and a 4.30 – 5.30pm finish depending on the time of year.
The long term volunteers will receive exceptional training and also assist in the husbandry requirements of the collection as directed by an assigned mentor.
All long term volunteers are unpaid; however there is the option, depending on your circumstances for reasonable expenses to be paid, such as travel costs if these are accrued. These opportunities provide valuable experience for people from all backgrounds; a training agreement will be completed and reviewed regularly and a training record will be provided upon completion of the placement.
Long term volunteers can partake in monthly onsite workshops and training ranging from animal handling and restraint, nutrition, enclosure design, enrichment, and even Zoo licensing and legislation.
Check here for current opportunities.