Zookeepers are individuals employed by zoos and animal parks to watch over and take care of animals. They not only tend to the needs of the animals, but also educate the public about animals at the zoo and participate in animal research. This type of work is a dream job for many. The number of people turning in applications to become zookeepers each year, however, far exceeds the number of jobs available. If you are interested in obtaining one of these coveted jobs, it is important to make yourself and your application stand out from the rest. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that can help make your dream a reality.
Donate your time as a volunteer at the zoo. The Saint Louis Zoo allows people who are 15 years of age and older to work as volunteers. They also offer a “Keeper for a Day” program for younger students in Grades 2 through 8. Check with the zoo in your area to see if they have similar programs.
Learn as much about animals as you can. If you are not old enough to work as a volunteer, read books, watch television programs about nature and visit websites that provide information about wildlife, exotic animals and natural history.
Get a part-time job in a pet store or veterinary clinic. This not only gives you experience working with animals, but you can use your employer as a reference to show that you have cared for animals.
- Apply for an internship at a zoo. Interns not only learn basic animal husbandry, but also acquire knowledge about what a zookeeper does. Applications for summer internships generally close out five or six months ahead of time. The earlier you can get your application in, the better your chances of being accepted.
- Obtain a college degree in zoology, animal science, animal behavior or marine biology. Although a zoo, such as the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens only require a high school diploma for its zookeepers, a college degree ultimately will get your application noticed.
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