An Average Day as a Zookeeper

Wild animals in zoos occasionally cause injury to care givers.
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Wild animals in zoos occasionally cause injury to care givers.

Zookeepers provide daily care for animals in zoos and animal parks around the world. Liking animals is a good starting point for a career as a zookeeper. However, the work is often challenging and dirty. The pay is modest as well. The median annual pay for all animal care workers was $19,780 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Feeding and Cleaning

Among the more routine daily activities for a zookeeper are feeding and cleaning. They generally coordinate and help with providing food to all of the animals in the zoo. Different animals eat at different times of the day, so keepers often have a schedule set for the order of feedings. Cleaning pits, tanks, cages and other living habitats is necessary for sanitation, animal health and aesthetic appeal for visitors.

Animal Observation

The zookeeper also has primary responsibility for monitoring the activity and behavior of animals to spot any health concerns. Sluggish behavior, aggressive behavior or awkward movements can all indicate that something is wrong with an animal. The zookeeper keeps a daily log of any unusual health situations with the animals. She also communicates with the veterinarian when care is required to provide any necessary treatment or medicine.

Play and Train

Keepers also play with the animals on a regular basis. This is one of the perks of a job working with animals. More importantly, it is good for the physical and mental well-being of the animals. Hide and seek with food or toys, water showers and ball tosses are among the common games animals may enjoy. Training varies by animal, and one of its primary goals is to make the animals more manageable and easier to care for by the zoo staff.


As much as zoos and animal parks are a home for animals, they are also in many cases businesses. Zookeepers commonly share some of the duties of serving patrons of the zoo. This may include showing groups around on tours of the facility or simply answering questions about the zoo or specific animals during presentations. Zoos often put on shows or presentations to educate guests and highlight abilities of certain animals.

2016 Salary Information for Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers earned a median annual salary of $23,040 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, animal care and service workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,540, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $29,490, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 296,400 people were employed in the U.S. as animal care and service workers.

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