Back               FAQ’s About Zoo Keeping

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1. How much would a starting zookeeper make at a zoo? 
There salary ranges, however, vary throughout the United States depending on the size of the zoo and how the zoo is supported. Most zoo keeping positions do not follow a regular Monday through Friday workweek —working days usually include weekends.

2. What kind of education and or background does a zookeeper need? :
For zoo keeping positions, a high school diploma is required. More zoos are now hiring zookeepers with a college degree in a natural science (biology, zoology, wildlife management, animal behavior, marine biology, exotic animal management/zoo keeping). While not always required, a college degree is advantageous in the competitive field of zoo keeping. However, in the zoo keeping field, experience is valuable. You will find it difficult to impossible to get hired as a zookeeper without experience. Some ways to gain zoo keeping experience include, volunteering, doing internships, or taking on seasonal or intermittent/temporary zoo keeping positions.  Although zoo keeping is not a high-paying career, not is there much room for advancement as there might be in a corporation, there is stiff competition for zoo keeping positions. Most zookeepers have put in many years of volunteer or low-wage work before obtaining full-time, permanent zookeeper positions.

3. What is the danger of attack from animals? What do keepers do to protect themselves?:
It is important to remember that zoo animals, while they live in captivity, are not tame and could cause serious injury. Some zoo animals, depending on how they were raised, may be unaccustomed to humans. Unlike a wild animal that might flee from a person, a captive animal accustomed to humans might approach a person and could easily cause injury.

Due to safety issues, in many zoos, including Lupa zoo, close contact between zoo animals and zookeepers is very limited and is strictly managed.

Zookeepers must be constantly aware of the safety hazards of their job. They must use all of their senses to know what is going on around them at all times. zookeepers must be very attuned to the behavior of the animals in their care and must be very observant in order to notice any physical or behavioral changes in the animals. They must also be creative, patient and have sound common sense and good problem-solving abilities. Good zookeepers are extremely dependable and responsible.

Zookeepers and our Lupazoo staff have emergency training and are well rehearsed in what to do in case of emergency. It is important for keepers to be conscientious about locking locks and double-checking them.

What are useful subjects to take in high school?:
As many biology and other science courses as possible would provide a good foundation. Spend some of your free time reading or using other media to learn about animals, plants and the natural world.

4. What do zookeepers like the best about their jobs?:
The personal and professional satisfaction that zookeepers find in their jobs varies from person to person. For many zookeepers the satisfaction of caring for animals that represent some of the last of their species on earth, and sometimes helping to preserve these species through captive management programs is the greatest reward of the job. Being instrumental in the lives of these animals and helping their species to survive is very gratifying.

For safety reasons, close contact between keepers and animals is very limited and strictly managed. However, even with limited contact, the relationships that develop between keepers and the animals they care for are often strong and can also be a rewarding aspect of the job.

What do zookeepers like least about their jobs?:
Depending on the particular job and on the person, zookeepers have different likes and dislikes about their work. However, many zookeepers encounter similar conditions in their jobs that are difficult, repetitive and just not much fun. These include: working outside no matter what the conditions, cleaning up feces (poop), cleaning and scrubbing animal holding areas and exhibits, and preparing animal diets. These activities must be done once or twice a day, and can become repetitive.

5. How much time do keepers spend scooping poop? How much time each day do keepers spend feeding the animals?
For most zoo keeping positions, preparing diets for the animals and cleaning up after them can take up to 75% of each day. As previously mentioned, there is little to no contact with the animals depending on what type of animals are being cared for, though keepers do spend some of their time observing the animals under their care for any indications of health problems or unusual behavior.

6. What types of medical situations do keepers handle? What types of medical procedures do the veterinarians handle?
The most important job for a keeper in relation to the health of the animals is to be observant. Any abnormal behavior, such as a change in eating habits, could be a sign of sickness or injury.
Most wild animals do not tend to show major signs of sickness. In the wild, a sick-looking animal would be more prone to attack by other animals than would a healthy-looking animal. Therefore, Zookeepers must be extremely observant in order to detect any subtle irregularities in an animal’s behavior, physical condition or routine. These irregularities can indicate that something is not quite right with the animal.

If keepers observe abnormal behavior they may collect urine, feces or other samples to be analyzed by the vet. These samples are also collected and analyzed on a regular basis to monitor the health of all Lupazoo animals. When animals need long-term routine medicine, injections, rehydration, force-feeding or wound care, keepers may incorporate these duties into their daily routines. The veterinary staff performs routine examinations on some species; emergency and short-term care, such as stitching or surgery; and more extensive care if needed. Experience with caring for sick or wounded animals can be beneficial to a zookeeper, but training in veterinary medicine is not required

8. What are keeper’s daily duties? What is involved in a typical day?
A zookeeper’s typical day may look something like the following (however, this would depend on what types of animals are cared for by the keeper):

7:00 a.m.

Begin the day by checking on the animals, making sure that all the animals are there and observing them for any abnormal behavior or signs of illness or injury. Often when animals are sick, they will exhibit signs of sickness in the morning

Prepare morning diets

Clean outdoor enclosure while the animals are still inside

Feed morning diets


9:30 a.m.

Shift animals to outdoor exhibit by the time the Lupazoo opens

Clean indoor holding areas

12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m.

Prepare afternoon diets

Finish cleaning and complete other projects

Write daily reports for each animal

5:00 p.m.

Shift animals to indoor holding areas

Feed afternoon diets

Observe animals for any signs of sickness or injury

6:30 p.m. Lock up before leaving

Of course each day is different from the next, with different projects to complete, meetings to attend, educational programs to present for zoo visitors.