Unusual Careers With Animals

Your zoo interpreter career introduces you to lots of unusual animals.
i Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

You can't imagine anything more fun than a career that revolves around animals. Now that you're ready to satisfy your longtime curiosity about creatures with fur, tails or scales, you've discovered more animal-related careers than you can count. One thing is certain: With your adventurous spirit and flair for the unconventional, you simply won't be content with a mainstream animal-related job. Good thing you've turned up a few quirky careers that deserve a second look.

Zoo Interpreter

Your childhood zoo excursions spurred your lifelong fascination with lions, zebras and other creatures who were simply too funky for words. While you don't have the stomach for the messier parts of zoo keeping work, a zoo interpreter career might be perfect for you. You'll get up close with the zoo's education animals, and meet plenty of children and families during special overnight events held on the zoo's premises. You might even get to work a birthday party or scout troop event. Your bachelor's degree, teaching skills and ability to handle unpredictable situations make you a natural for zoo interpreter work.


If you suspect you were a fish in a previous life, you might find an aquarium career fits you swimmingly. As a metro aquarium aquarist, you'll care for fish, corals, crabs and other creatures that call the water their home. You'll keep the critters fed, monitor the aquarium's water chemistry and life support systems, and keep a watchful eye on aquarium residents' overall health. In large aquariums, you might don your wet suit and SCUBA gear to clean the tanks' interiors, which will introduce you to numerous large fish and probably a few sharks. If you're ready to dive right in, note that you'll generally need a bachelor's degree in biology, marine biology, oceanography, or a similar field. You might also need previous large-aquarium maintenance skills.

Animal Colorist

If you've got a nicely polished set of artistic skills, and you've been caught doodling in class too many times to count, you might be ripe for an animal colorist career. Yes, you really can make a living dyeing horses in all colors of the rainbow, or applying intricate designs to dogs' faces and bodies with non-toxic paints. Animal colorist Rose Ordile stumbled into her profession while she scoured animal shelters for specifically colored dogs for movie work. When Rose couldn't locate a perfectly patterned canine, she created him in her art studio. Rose also discovered that other animals made attractive living canvases, although each species came with its distinctive challenges. Rose's success with her film and ad campaign clientele might lead to opportunities for other animal colorists.

Exotic Animal Veterinarian

Perhaps you'd like to indulge your inner Doctor Doolittle by getting up close to wild animals every day. As an exotic animal vet, you'll typically work in a zoo or wild animal park, and your patients will include big cats, rhinos, giraffes and perhaps an iguana or two. You'll monitor their health, determine when they're under the weather, and catch and anesthetize them for medical procedures. You might even call in a human medical specialist to assist you. To prepare for an exotic animal vet position, study the career of Michael Barrie, DVM, Director of Animal Health at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. After vet school, Dr. Barrie honed his skills at a small animal hospital, and progressed to an exotic animal vet practice and a series of zoo veterinarian positions. He says his plum Columbus Zoo assignment represents his achievement of a longtime dream.

the nest