The Risks of Being a Zoologist

Even working with domesticated pets has its hazards.
i David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images
Even working with domesticated pets has its hazards.

Becoming a zoologist isn't as strange a career path for you as you might think, and women have worked as zoologists throughout history. If zoology is your thing, you may have heard of Dian Fossey, who studied gorillas, and Terri Irwin, the Australian naturalist and zoo owner. However, before you grab your audio recorder and go off in pursuit of lemurs' mating calls, you need to be aware of the risks that present themselves to female zoologists.


A zoonose is any disease you can get from an animal, so naturally zoologists are more likely to be at risk from them than folks in other lines of work. If you think you're playing it safe by studying nice, harmless creatures such as domestic cats, you're wrong. Even the most domesticated of cats can get toxoplasmosis by eating flies, roaches and rodents, and then pass it onto you. If you're pregnant, you need to be particularly careful not to catch this disease, as your immune system will be running at low speed.

Wear and Tear

Being a zoologist can take its toll on your body, leaving you feeling exhausted, run down and weak. Fieldwork is a big part of the zoologist's work and while it is interesting, it is also physically demanding. This is even moreso the case if you're working in extreme weather conditions such as energy-sapping humidity. Even if you're as physically strong as any man, you still must take precautions against wearing your body out in this line of work. Be sure to maintain your physical fitness and watch what you eat and drink.

Getting Lost

As a zoologist, you'll be regularly doing fieldwork in places you're unfamilar with. It can be all too easy to get lost and spend hours wandering around, until you realize that you've just been walking round in circles. Having an accident or getting ill in an isolated area also are dangerous. However, there are some measures you can take to stay safe. Avoid working alone in the field, as two heads are better than one when it comes to finding your way back to the right path. Take a map and cell phone with you and remember to tell someone where you're going and when you will return before setting off.

Dangerous Weather

The great outdoors is the zoologist's workplace and playground, but it can also be her worst nightmare when the weather turns bad. Heavy rains can contribute to rivers bursting their banks, leaving anyone nearby trapped in the flooded area or worse, swept into a dangerous current. Heavy rainfall can also trigger mudslides, as can melting snow and high levels of ground water. Storms can trigger avalanches. As a zoologist you'll know how important it is to respect nature, so respect the dangers of weather by not doing fieldwork in extreme weather conditions.

2016 Salary Information for Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a median annual salary of $60,520 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,360, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $76,320, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 19,400 people were employed in the U.S. as zoologists and wildlife biologists.

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