1. Things You Need to Know Before You Get the Job

Most people think that if someone loves animals that person should become a vet or maybe even a zookeeper. I myself was one of those people. However, what many people don’t seem to realize is that the jobs requires so much more than a love for animals. A research project in my Composition II class has forced me to really dig into my idea for a career and make some discoveries that are crucial for the field of zoo keeping, even before you get the job. Knowing these things may deter some from even pursuing the career all together.

One thing that must be made clear is that you must be in it for the love of the animals, not the money. The average salary for most zookeepers is around $30,000 a year, which isn’t much better than a janitor’s yearly salary. In terms of education I wasn’t surprised to find that in the book, “Careers for Animal Lover and Other Zoological Types,” the author recommended a degree in biology, animal behavior, and zoology. However, last year when I went to Discovery Cove in Orlando, I asked the employees about the path they took in college. Surprisingly, many of them had degrees in psychology. There is also a two year period where a zoo keeper is trained through a “fairly extensive… academic course,” said a keeper named Daniel Simmonds in an interview. (The link for this interview is at the bottom).

Another discovery that I learned from the vet at the local animal clinic is that you should get as much experience working with animals as you can. While an education is grand idea and shouldn’t be forgotten, many employers want to know that you are capable of doing the job by looking into your past. Simmonds also mentioned that volunteering your time at the zoo or a veterinarian clinic is a great way to get experience, however, most zoos require you to be at least 18 years old before you can work there. This is because it is a high-risk job. Later in the interview with Daniel Simmonds, he admits that “there would be a chance of being killed” by the wild animals. Nor can you choose which animals you want to work with. Zoos want employees to be able to switch off jobs with other keepers and take on different sections.

Here is the link for the interview with zookeeper Daniel Simmonds:  http://www.videojug.com/interview/being-a-zoo-keeper-2

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