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Primates Curator

Maintain a zoo's collection of monkeys, gorillas, and other primates.

What does a Primates Curator do?

Man’s best friend is a dog. Because he’s descended from apes, however, his favorite cousin is a chimp. The job of a Primates Curator, therefore, is something of a family affair: He or she manages the primates collection at a zoo.

Although most employers forbid monkey business, a Primates Curator’s employer encourages it. When you’re a Primates Curator, you’re an Animal Curator who specializes in orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and monkeys. In other words, you’re paid by your zoo to do with apes what an Art Museum Curator does with paintings: acquire, care for, and display the items in a collection, which in this case happen to be monkeys instead of Monets. Like Zookeepers, whom you frequently assist, you feed the apes, groom them, train them, clean their living spaces, and otherwise ensure their health, safety, and comfort.

That’s only the beginning, though. In addition to caring for primates, you’re in charge of obtaining, breeding, and exhibiting them.

To obtain them, you decide what’s missing in your collection – a male howler monkey, for instance, or a female gorilla – and then get it by coordinating with other zoos and wildlife parks to buy, sell, loan, and trade animals. To breed them, you similarly coordinate with other zoos to match up complementary animals, pairing primates for the purpose of continuing and conserving their species. Finally, to exhibit them, you develop primate habitats and education programs that showcase the animals to zoo-goers.

Whether you’re feeding, breeding, or exhibiting, your goals as a Primates Curator are always the same: ensuring the short-term health and happiness of individual primates by giving them a safe place to live, and contributing to the long-term survival of primate species by promoting wildlife conservation through education and advocacy.