Zoos are interesting places. They give us opportunities to be with animals that we only see on TV and in books. When we visit zoos, we experience how it is to live in an animal sanctuary. It is therapeutic to feel that we are a part of the animal kingdom and nature in general when we are in zoos.
There is something about nature and animals that creates good vibes. Zookeepers enjoy this feeling every day and what’s good about it is that they get paid also.
Do you like animals? Do you feel inquisitive around animals? Can you forget their dangerous instincts to have the chance to touch them? Then you can be a terrific zookeeper!
How to become a zookeeper1 Adequate knowledge is required. There are thousands of animals in the world. It is impossible to know all facts about these animals but it is important to know basic information about animal behavior. Zoos give shelter to different species of animals, it is important that we are armed with knowledge in dealing with them.
- Read books and magazines. Nature-related and science oriented books and magazines contain articles about animals and how they behave in their habitat. They will give you some background information about some animals that are featured in these literatures.
- Watch studies and films featuring animals. Films can help you depict the actual situation in the wild. Most of these films feature the more common animals such as lions, tigers, monkeys, birds, dolphins, sharks, bears, and snakes. You can study how they behave and know their natural instincts in some aspects of their life.
- If you are in high school, focus on science, specifically animal science. Pay special attention to little details on what they eat, where they are found, how they reproduce and other useful information.
- You can also volunteer at local zoos or veterinary clinics during summer. You can gain knowledge from veterinarians and experienced zoo keepers. Another benefit is that you also gain much needed experience.
- No formal education is required. A high school degree is enough. Unlike other professions, a degree is not a requirement for job advancements.
- If you proceed in college, a degree in animal science such as zoology and biology can give you a huge edge over other applicants.
2 Experience is given more value. Employers look for more experienced animal handlers especially those who have dealt with large animals.
- You can gain experience by applying as volunteers at local zoos. Handling various animals and having hands-on experience can give you a big boost in terms of credentials. You will also have an actual feel of the tasks and routines expected of a zookeeper.
- If zoos are inaccessible, you can volunteer at wildlife preservations, nature parks, or even veterinary clinics.
- Be sure to ask zookeepers, veterinarians or other animal handlers for tips and suggestions. They can impart knowledge that can only be known through years of practice. Take advantage of your chance to gain from experts in the field.
- Establish good working relationships with other animal handlers. They can be your reference persons when you apply for a zookeeper job in the future.
- Be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of zookeepers. They will be your responsibilities in the future.
- Try to study animal behavior and characteristics. Learning based on experience is very different from attaining knowledge by reading books.
- If given the chance to have your internships at zoos, take advantage of your opportunity. Take time to be familiar with different animals in the zoo. You may encounter similar creatures in the future.
- Expand your knowledge base and develop skills in handling animals. Use your time wisely and learn as much as you can. Animals are unpredictable; the more time you spend with them, the more you understand their instincts.
3 Be in excellent physical condition. Tasks may include strenuous activities such as cleaning and lifting cages. Dealing with large animals may also require physically abled persons.
4 Take specific courses if you want to focus on certain animals. If you are interested on dolphins and aquatic animals, then you should take up marine biology. Specializations can increase your chances of being hired in the long run.
5 The Association of Zoos and Aquariums offers training programs to further enrich one’s knowledge and develop skills essential for zookeepers. They also conduct conferences and meetings annually. This organization also gives importance to nature conservation and reintroduction of animals back into the wild.
6 Consider joining groups such as the American Association of Zoo Keepers to have access to current trends, employment opportunities and other information in line with zoo keeping as a profession.
7 Look for job openings. There are a lot of aspiring zookeepers who are looking forward to be employed. You must try to apply in every possible work area you can find. Competition cannot be avoided when searching for jobs. You must be patient in job applications and hopefully you can seize a wonderful and very satisfying job in the future.
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