If you want to be a zookeeper it’s important that you have realistic expectations of the sort of work involved. While every role will be a little different depending on what zoo you’re working in and what animals you’re working with, this generic zookeeper position description will give you a fair idea of the basics and may help you if you’re writing a zoo keeper job application.
Position: Wildlife Keeper
Reports to: Senior Wildlife Keeper
- Maintain zoo exhibits and off-display enclosures. This may include scrubbing, disinfecting, sweeping, hosing, removing manure etc.
- Prepare and distribute food to the animals in your care.
- Maintain daily reports, logs, training and enrichment records, research or veterinary records, as appropriate.
- Closely observe animals with regard to general appearance, food consumption levels and other health-related issues.
- Report any abnormalities to your supervisor.
- Maintain aesthetics of enclosures. This may include weed removal and mowing lawn.
- Maintain water quality in the enclosures of aquatic and semi-aquatic species.
- Participate in animal enrichment and training programs as required.
- Engage with zoo visitors and answer their questions.
- Deliver educational talks to the public.
- Administer prescribed medications, supplements, or treatments under the guidance of the veterinary and supervisory staff.
- Assist with the implementation of animal breeding programs.
- Assist in the capture of animals that need to be examined by the vet, relocated to another enclosure etc.
- Assist in the renovation and restoration of animal exhibits.
- Assist in the control and eradication of pests and rodents.
- Follow safety guidelines and report any safety concerns to supervisor.
- Assist in the care and rearing of orphaned animals.
General zookeeping skills
- Public speaking and customer service skills
- Zookeeping qualifications
- Excellent record keeping skills
- Computer literacy
- Excellent observational skills
- May be required to drive a vehicle
- A medium to high level of physical fitness. This position may require significant physical effort on a daily basis such as walking, bending, stooping, repetitive motions, lifting heavy objects or standing for long periods.
Personal attributes required by a zookeeper
- Enjoys practical, manual, and sometimes heavy work
- Has a passion for animals, their welfare and conservation
- Has the self-assurance to handle animals with confidence and patience
- Free of (or able to manage) allergies aggravated by animal hair, feathers, fur and dust
Other relevant zookeeping information
- Being a zookeeper means that you may be exposed to zoonotic diseases, chemicals or even physical trauma (though usually of a minor nature).
- Zookeeper salaries aren’t too crash hot (but we do it for the love of it, right?)
- Depending on the exact position, you may be required to work with dangerous animals, and vaccinations for zoonotic diseases may be required.
- Zookeepers often need to work weekends and holidays, and sometimes evenings as well.