Discover your career path

Zookeeper

Tend to the animals at a zoo.

What does a Zookeeper do?

“This place is a zoo!” People say that at overcrowded shopping malls during the holidays, in congested parking lots on weekends and at bustling theme parks when they’re on vacation. When you’re a Zookeeper, however, you say it every day when you’re at work.

That’s because your office really is a zoo — literally — and it’s your job as a Zookeeper to manage and maintain it.

Actually, your job isn’t managing the zoo. It’s managing the wild animals inside it. Their friend, guardian and protector, your job as a Zookeeper is caring for captive creatures, including small ones — like spiders, snakes and birds — and big ones, such as elephants, giraffes and bears. Your typical duties therefore include feeding the animals, grooming them, cleaning their living spaces, training them, playing with them and otherwise supervising their activities, all the while watching them for abnormal behaviors indicating sickness, sadness or stress.

Because nobody knows the animals as well as you do, you advise Veterinarians on animals’ health, consult with Animal Curators on animals’ environments, and answer questions from the visiting public on animals’ bodies, diets, habitats and behaviors.

Employed by zoos, aquariums and wildlife refuges, your job can be dangerous, since wild animals often kick, bite, sting and scratch. Because you love animals, however, you focus more on the rewards — affection, for example, education and advocacy — than on the risks. After all, your job has changed a lot over the decades. Once upon a time, you tamed and tranquilized caged creatures; nowadays, however, you secure their survival and support their wellbeing.