A zookeeper is described as an individual who cares for many types of animals in a zoological park or aquarium setting. For many, this job is very rewarding because they will establish a deep connection with many of the animals they care for.
On the surface, this job seems to be fairly straight forward through the tasks of cleaning, feeding and tending to the animals they care for. However, being a zookeeper is much more demanding than one would assume. Think of it this way, these people have to care for an extensive variety of animals ranging from lions to turtles and penguins. They not only need to feed this wide range of animals, but also need to train the animals, ensure they exhibit a positive mood and behavior, record their habits and notify veterinarians if the animals get sick. They also have to be well educated and versed to enrich the public on their understanding of the animals. In fact, most zoo keepers are part of animal research and conservation efforts to make certain populations are thriving and healthy.
Being a zookeeper is also extremely demanding on one’s personal life. Most zookeepers work long hours and even weekends because animals in zoos need constant assistance. A zookeeper can’t simply take a break from caring for the animal.
Listed below are the common tasks or duties of zookeepers:
- Feeding, maintaining and cleaning a variety of animal species
- Diet preparation
- Behavioral research and observation and participate in conservation efforts
- Record keeping of animal habits, behavior and eating patterns
- Evaluate the animal’s health and notify veterinarians when needed
- Assess the animal’s environment to ensure there are no potential threats
- Assist veterinarians when needed
- Educate the public on the animals
- Clean animal exhibits
- Train animals when applicable
From feeding snakes frozen feeder mice and rats to training lions and researching penguins, zoo keepers possess a variety of skills and talents to ensure the animals are well cared for. To become a zookeeper, you need to have 2 to 4 years of college experience studying biology, animal science or other sciences. In fact, many to-be zookeepers are encouraged to take extensive math courses to ensure they measure the right food portions and know observation methods. This job also requires an individual to have exceptional writing and speaking skills to educate the public and take good notes. Lastly, a zookeeper needs to have experience caring for a variety of animals.