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Featured Career: Zookeeper

If you've ever cared for an animal, you may have experienced how rewarding that can feel. Knowing about animals is only one part of a much bigger picture in a zookeeper's career. Knowing about conservation and the natural world is another big part. A Zookeeper is required to comprehend the study of the origins, diseases, behavior, genetics, and life processes of animals and wildlife. They may specialize in certain groups of animals like reptiles, birds, mammals, or other species. They may also collect and interpret natural data to ascertain the environmental effects of ground and water habitats.

The quotidian tasks of a zookeeper involve:

  • Preparing food for the animals & feeding them.

  • Cleaning enclosures and cages.

  • Replacing animals' bedding.

  • Monitoring animals to ensure they are healthy and comfortable.

  • Keeping accounts of their health.

  • Giving educational talks to the public.

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Despite being a specialized and challenging job, a zookeeper's pay is on the pitiable side of the pay scale, considering it is a skilled position. The average salary is $32,530 in the United States. Those with more experience and a higher degree are likely to make a superior salary. The type, size, and location of the facility can affect pay as well. On a positive note, the career outlook for zookeeper jobs looks promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for animal care service workers like zookeepers will increase by 22 percent by the end of 2029.

Some skills that will be important to possess are interpersonal, problem-solving, customer service, computer, and time management skills. Gaining experience through volunteer work or an internship is vital to landing a job in this field. Consider working at a pet shop, animal hospital or shelter, livestock farm, horse stable, or maybe even a zoo, if possible.

A team of professionals with diverse backgrounds is what any good zoo will require. So, when trying to determine which school to attend, find ones that specialize in programs that complement professional zoo work. These may include general biology, zoology, wildlife and forestry, animal husbandry, ecology, veterinary medicine, and ethology. If you feel that pursuing a career as a zookeeper is your calling, don't let anything get in your way. Get a bachelor's degree in one of these specialized programs; it will help you in your job search, even if it's not a prerequisite for a zookeeping position. A master's degree is usually not necessary unless you're looking for a higher-level position. Getting to know and interacting with animals on a daily basis can be very satisfying and requires a unique group of people. Could that unique group of people possibly be - You?

By: Jowanna's Corner

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