In zoos, aquariums, or safari parks, a zookeeper’s main responsibility is to manage and care for the animals and their surroundings. You serve as the zoo’s first point of contact while in this position.

Who are the zookeepers?


Professional zookeepers perform a range of important tasks, such as those listed below:

  • Examine and maintain all animal exhibits, holding facilities, and other areas; look for signs of wear or damage in enclosures and cages.
  • Making and following feeding schedules, preparing the proper animal food by chopping or grinding meat, fish, vegetables, or fruit.
  • Participate in animal enrichment and operant conditioning training programs.
  • Ensure that computer-based software is used to maintain accurate daily records of animal health and behavior.
  • Encourage visitor interactions, such as organized conversations with zoo visitors.

Everyday Life

This job might have a very thrilling and fast-paced daily routine. The first half of the day would be devoted to feeding, cleaning, and grooming the animals in their care. Common zoo animals include elephants, giraffes, deer, snakes, birds, bears, and more.

The zookeeper’s duties also include cleaning the living quarters of various animals and engaging with some of them. The assigned zoo animals must also be given accurate training and maintained in a happy environment.

You are required to do daily inspections to gauge each animal’s health and keep an eye out for any unusual behaviors that might indicate illness, nervousness, or stress.

Zookeepers can answer questions from the public about the anatomy of the animals, their native habitats, and their normal habits. Veterinarians occasionally consult zookeepers for advice on the health of the animals.

A zookeeper’s regular duties include providing both official and informal educational training to the public. Finally, after they gain specific knowledge of an animal species, employees at zoos with research capabilities will have the ability to help with research projects.

Schedule For Work And Typical Hours

Approximately 363 days out of the year, zoos are typically open to the public. Since animals have different needs and don’t follow regular hours, you can expect to work both indoors and outdoors throughout various time shifts.

Candidates must be devoted and prepared to work on weekends or during holidays regardless of the season to be familiar with fluctuating work schedules. Particularly during the winter when the ground is frozen, work might be difficult.

Expansion of the job

Between 2014 and 2024, there will be more opportunities for workers who provide care and services for animals. There are only a few positions available when new zoos launch. When older employees are retiring from their positions, most hiring occurs.

Beginning as a zookeeper, you can move to a senior or head keeper or, with more training, to an area supervisor, an assistant curator, and finally a curator.

The size of the zoo, its operating procedures, and a person’s qualifications all affect job growth. For this profession to advance, one must continue their professional education in veterinary medicine, husbandry, and other technologies.

Common Employers

Zoos, aquariums, and animal parks or sanctuaries are examples of typical employers. In the US, state governments or nonprofit organizations own the majority of zoos.

Although the salary is low and the working conditions can be difficult, it can be difficult to compete for open employment openings. A valid driver’s license and an aptitude test may be required by some zoos.

The Path to Zookeeping

Although there aren’t any formal schooling requirements for zookeepers, the majority have a college degree in a related field.

For instance, you’ll be in good shape for solid career chances if you have a four-year bachelor’s degree in biology, animal science, zoology, marine biology, psychology, or a similar discipline.

These programs include courses on topics including animal behavior, genetics, microbiology, reproduction, and physiology, all of which are useful when working with animals daily.

Developing your skills in animal care or landing an internship at a zoological facility are other opportunities to advance in your career. Zoos are increasingly offering possibilities for young people to volunteer.

Examples include the Explorers or Junior Zookeeper programs, which are similar to programs for adult volunteers but offer more direct supervision.

More and more job vacancies require prior animal training experience, thus zookeeper candidates have an advantage over others if they have practical experience gained from working at a real zoo.

Data on zookeeper salaries

The information below will help you learn more about this profession. The editorial material and recommendations on this page are based on our research, while the income and growth information is based on newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Low Range for National Annual Salaries

$18,580 Average $23,630

Superior $34,780

Nationwide minimum wage

Low Range: $9/hr; Average Range: $11; High Range: $17/hr

How do zookeeper wages compare to those in other American jobs?

According to the most recent data on employment across the country, zookeepers can earn an average yearly salary of $23,630, or $11 per hour. It is therefore a Salary Above Average.

When first starting or depending on the state you live in, they may make as little as $18,580 or $9 per hour.

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