There has never been a more important time for Zoos
Our world is changing… fast. A massive number of animal species are now facing global extinction. Turn your passion for animals into a career and work as a Zoo Keeper. Be part of a team of people passionate about preserving our precious species.
Obtain the skills to be a Zoo Keeper
Zoo keeping provides the opportunity to work with a wide range of
animals (Unlike being a farmer, dog trainer or veterinary assistant, for
example, where the variety may not be so great).
Make a difference
Zoo Keepers can get involved in the research conducted by zoos on animal behaviour, reproduction, nutrition, health and genetics – valuable research for scientist working with wildlife populations.
Become an animal specialist
Much of our wildlife now exist in small, fragmented groups as a result of habitat destruction. Zoos have expertise in breeding small populations of threatened and endangered species and so their work is of extreme value to wildlife scientists.
Be part of a huge team working with other zoos all over the world to obtain optimal genetic diversity in species survival programs and collaborate with global organisations on conservation breeding, habitat preservation, community programs, public education.
Connect people to animals
‘Today more and more of us live in cities and lose any
real connection with wild animals and plants.’
(David Attenborough, 2004)
People learn at zoos - It is more important than ever for families to bring their children to zoos and teach them about the natural world and respect for living animals. As a Zoo Keeper you can educate and inspire people about wildlife conservation.
Certificate in Zoo Keeping
This course will provide you with flexible learning experiences that will help start you on your way to a career in zoo keeping.
For zoo keepers, volunteers or anyone with a passion for working with wildlife.
Tip: While you are studying, try to get as much work experience as possible. This will not only increase your job opportunities but also your confidence with animals and provide a network of support. If you can't work in a zoo, you might want to try working at an animal shelter or petting zoo. All relevant experience is worthwhile!
Note that each module in the Certificate in Zoo Keeping is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Working as a Zoo Keeper
Here are a few of the key tasks in the role of a Zoo Keeper:
• Animal care (health and welfare).
• Animal food and water preparation and provision.
• Cleaning animal enclosures.
• Observing and recording animal behaviour.
• Monitoring animal health.
• Grooming, exercising and training animals.
• Educating visitors through talks or demonstrations.
• Helping with conservation and research projects.
Research & Zoos
Having intimate access to a variety of animals, zoos are in the desirable position of being able to conduct research and acquire knowledge of these animals and how they live. Research undertaken in zoos is an important part of their conservation strategies. It is now a legal requirement in the UK for zoos to be involved in research that help meet conservation goals.
Many of the larger zoos are involved in research which covers a wide range of areas such as:
• Animal Health and Nutrition
• Animal Behaviour
• Animal Husbandry Techniques
• Visitor Experiences
• Cooperative Research into Conservation of Threatened Species
• Recovery of Wildlife
• Self Assessment – how the zoo can improve particular functions
What is a good enclosure?
The optimum design for a zoo enclosure is not necessarily one that replicates the natural habitat of an animal. In reality, enclosure design is generally a compromise between the needs of the animal, zoo keeper and visitors. An enclosure should provide enough space so that the animal does not feel vulnerable or threatened. Flight distances of particular species should be taken into consideration during the design process. Enclosures should also meet the animal’s physiological and psychological needs while allowing zoo staff to carry out routine husbandry procedures safely. Visitors should also enjoy their experience at the enclosure and hopefully learn more about the animal through observation.
What is needed to succeed as a Zoo Keeper
With experience and knowledge that builds over time; a zookeeper's opportunities can significantly expand. This is the type of job that can be transportable from one location to another (example: Our tutor Robert Browne; started by studying and gaining experience in Australia, but as he developed knowledge and a reputation within the world of zoology, he has followed exciting opportunities to work right across Australia, in Europe, Asia and America).
You may start as a volunteer while studying a course like this certificate; progress to paid employment in a zoo or veterinary practice; and eventually progress to opportunities wide and far; perhaps in zoos, but also wildlife reserves, aquariums and animal centres.
Working with wild animals can have it's risks; but risk should be no more than any other job if you adhere to health and safety guidelines.
A career in a zoo, or other wildlife situation can be competitive, and getting a start is perhaps the most difficult thing. You may struggle if you rely on study alone. You can struggle just as much if you rely on experience alone.
People who are successful are those who are passionate, persistent and prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed. If this describes you; we can help you to get a start.
Next step should be to enter into a dialogue with someone who knows and understand the industry. We have tutors who are world leaders in this industry. Peter Douglas has managed two of Australia's leading wildlife parks, and continues to be involved with a park owned by one of his sons. Robert Browne has worked for zoos in Adelaide, Perth, and Antwerp; has been involved in wildlife conservation in Europe and Asia; and managed a sustainability project in Belize. These are just two of many experts on our team.