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How to Become a Zookeeper in Australia: careers in Animal Care

Zoo keeping, also known as captive animal handling, can be a rewarding career. Contributing to conservation of endangered species and caring for sick and injured animals, zoo keepers can find opportunities to work in zoos, laboratories, animal rescue centres, wildlife parks and veterinary surgeries. Zoo keepers feed, clean and care for animals, perform health checks, carry out medical procedures like injections, tests, surgery and fertility treatments. They also develop education programs to promote environmental conservation to the public.
Pathways

Being a zookeeper: daily duties

Zookeepers tend to the basic care of animals in accordance with the relevant codes of practice and ethics of their industry. They also work under supervision in breeding programs, helping animals, especially endangered species, return to the wild, and participate in scientific research programs, recording the results. This might include examining animals, taking body fluids for analysis, testing for parasites and other common conditions. Zoo keepers also need to monitor the reactions of the animals to tests and procedures, calculate drug dosages and prepare reports and papers.

Tasks:

  • Feeding and watering animals
  • Cleaning and disinfecting enclosures
  • Working in breeding programs
  • Monitoring the welfare and wellbeing of animals
Skills

Being a zookeeper: skills for success

Zoo keeping requires a great deal of manual labour, so physical fitness is necessary. A genuine love of animals, compassion and a desire to car for them, as well as a passion for conservation are also essential. If you have allergies to animal hair, feathers, fur or dust, this isn’t going to be a job for you. Patience and confidence and the ability to wrangle animals while following health and safety policies are also needed. Zoo keeping roles require science-based tertiary qualifications.
Skills/attributes
  • Good observation
  • Patience and kindness
  • Confidence around different animals
  • Willingness to perform messy tasks
  • Enjoy outdoors work
Specs

Specialised roles within animal care

Being a zookeeper, you have the opportunity to make the world a better place by being involved in conservation of wildlife. There are different specialisations that you can follow.
  • Researcher
    Using a science-based approach to species survival, researchers are employed by zoos, universities and conservation organisations. They look at ways of preserving endangered species, wildlife conservation and management and responses to threats such as disease, climate change and habitat destruction. Qualifications may include zoology, veterinary studies and biology.
  • Education officer
    Working to educate and influence the public about protecting species and the environment, education officers develop educational programs, workshops and volunteer programs. They also curate and manage exhibits. Education officers collaborate with facility managers to improve their programs, animal wellbeing and zoo visitor experiences. Qualifications typically include tertiary courses such as cell biology, conservation biology, ecology or zoology.
  • Veterinarian
    Veterinarians are essential to manage and maintain animal wellbeing in zoos, laboratories and wildlife parks. They tend to the daily medical needs of sick or injured animals and implement preventative care programs. They also collaborate with research organisations.
Pathways

Educational pathways for zookeepers

Completion of the relevant qualifications and registration in your state are necessary in order to become a zookeeper.
  • Start your career
    Completion of a vocational certificate in captive animals will let you work under supervision of a licenced zoo keeper while you learn skills on-the-job.
  • Strengthen your skills
    Complete studies that will lead to career advancement, qualify as a zookeeper or look to a career specialisation.
  • Build your resume
    You can pursue high-level employment options if you gain extensive qualifications or specialisation in a particular field of zoology.
  • Industry requirements
    To work as a zoo keeper in Australia, you must attain professional tertiary accreditation. You can find out more about the animal care industry’s professional requirements in the resources section.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your animal care career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    Employment in zookeeping has risen slightly in recent years and job prospects in this field are expected to remain steady through to November 2019.

Resources for Zookeeper

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