To operate a zoo and fulfill its conservation mission, zoos require a many types of jobs and employ people from a variety of different backgrounds, talents, skills, experiences, and education.
- Zookeeper Career Frequently Asked Questions
What does a zookeeper do?
A zookeeper does much more than “scoop poop” and feed animals! They also conduct animal observations, keep detailed animal care records, create and provide enrichment to the animals, manage animal care volunteers, conduct educational presentations, and participate in wildlife conservation projects.
How do I become a zookeeper?
Zookeeper jobs can be a challenge to obtain and are very competitive. Academic knowledge combined with animal care experience is essential for anyone seeking a career in zookeeping. For most zoos, paid full-time zookeeper positions will require:
- At least an Associate’s degree in animal science, biology, zoology, wildlife resources, wildlife conservation, or related field of study.
- Experience in animal care through volunteering or internships. Volunteering at places such as zoos and aquariums, wildlife refuges, nature centers, animal shelters, and animal boarding facilities will provide opportunities for animal care experience.
- Experience in animal care as a paid seasonal/part-time zookeeper or animal care-taker.
- Willingness to relocate, sometimes long distances. To gain the necessary animal care experience, it is advantageous to take job or internship opportunities as they become available, regardless of how far or how close they are to your place of residence.
- Public relations, customer service, or public speaking skills. Zoos are great places for guests to learn about animals and participate in wildlife conservation. Keepers play an essential role in guest education by providing both formal and information presentations to zoo guests, so excellent communication skills are very beneficial to a zookeeper.
What Zoo Career Development opportunities are available?
- Zoo Boise ZooTeen Program
- Zoo Boise Volunteer Opportunities
- Zoo Boise Internship Opportunities
- Zoo Boise Education Programs
If I volunteer, will I eventually be hired at Zoo Boise?
While some Zoo Boise employees have been Zoo Boise volunteers, the majority of the employees have been hired because of the diversity of experiences and knowledge that they have gained from organizations similar to and other than Zoo Boise.
- Zoo Career Resources
- ZooTeen Program
On the path to a zoo or wildlife career? Hands-on experience is essential to building the necessary skills and knowledge required to become a zoo or wildlife professional. One way to gain experience and explore zoo career options is through the ZooTeen Program open to students ages 13 – 17. For more information please visit our ZooTeen Program page.