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Zookeeper Job Description

Leena Palande
Do you love animals? Zookeeper job description involves taking care of the health of the animals in the zoo. The following story enlists different duties and responsibilities of a zookeeper. Read on, if you are thinking of making a career in this field.
Small children are fascinated by the idea of becoming a zookeeper, as they think that a zookeeper is lucky to enjoy a daily handshake with the roaring gorilla, or to enjoy a cool salute from the loving elephants. But zookeeper job description actually involves so many difficult tasks.
The keeper takes care of the animals, he watches the behavior of the animals carefully, and reports to the zoo manager about the requirements of the animals. Zookeepers play an important role in animal conservation.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Zookeeper

  • Zookeeper job description involves watering, bathing, feeding and exercising the animals. So the person should be strong and healthy. He has to clean, disinfect and repair their cages and tanks.
  • A zookeeper takes care of the animals in the zoo. Zoos generally have large animals like elephants, gorillas, hippopotamus, giraffes; scary and dangerous animals like rhinoceros, tigers, leopards; poisonous snakes and reptiles, small animals like frogs, fish, birds, hares, ducks, etc. He/she has to look after all types of animals.
  • He works as the mediator between the animal world and the public. He provides information about the animals and their behavior to the common visitors. He is supposed to create awareness about animal conservation in the minds of the visitors. He is expected to create love and respect for animals in the minds of common people.
  • A keeper is constantly in contact with the animals. Only love for animals is not enough to become a zookeeper, but you should be ready for hard work and long working hours. As keepers form close bonds with the animals, animals listen to them only. 
The animals expect them to work on weekends and holidays as well! A zookeeper often assists the researchers by providing important information about animals.
  • Some animals are to be fed early in the morning while some are to be fed late in the evenings, or even at night. So, the keeper may have to work for extra hours. As animals need food every day, their caretaker can rarely have a holiday.
  • By studying the environmental factors, animal habitats, etc. the zookeeper has to design a healthy diet for each and every animal in the zoo. He has to prepare meals for various animals. While feeding the animals, he may be required to lift heavy weight meals (about 50 pounds) regularly. 
So, you should be prepared for some hard laborious work and start preparing accordingly.
  • A zookeeper may work in a zoological park, aquarium or in wildlife refuges. He may be asked to take care of a certain group of animals like mammals, birds, or reptiles or he may be expected to look after a specific collection of animals such as primates (various types of monkeys), or large cats (tigers, leopards). He may be in charge of the exotic breeds or rare breeds. He has to assist in moving of animals too.
  • Despite proper care, animals in captivity often fall ill. The keeper, by observing the changes in their behavior can understand that the animal is not feeling well. He is supposed to call the vet and feed medicines to the animals on time. He is expected to monitor the health of the animals. Death of an animal can be a heartbreaking situation for him.
  • Job of a zookeeper is a risky job. Despite love and affection, wild animals are wild. Their behavior is quite unpredictable. There are instances, when zookeepers have been wounded, or even killed by zoo animals. 
During the breeding and mating of the animals, and after the birth of their babies, the keepers have to work with extreme caution. A stable and alert mind along with a fit body (to react swiftly) is essential for surviving a physical threat.
Very few zookeeper's jobs would be available in the future, as the number of zoos would always be limited. Many zoos accept volunteers, so, you can work as a volunteer to increase your chances of getting the job. Zookeeper salary range varies according to the location, the number and type of animals that the person is going to handle, his experience, etc.
Zookeeper job description indicates that the job is not a sedentary job. It involves lots of skills and it requires physical fitness as well. Moreover, the person should have a stable mind. Regular exercise, healthy diet and meditation help you have a strong and active body, and peaceful but alert mind.
Most zookeepers are veterinarians. Some are nutritionists for animals while some are experts in animal behavior. Sometimes, they work as animal trainers. If you have interest in animal science, zoology, marine biology or the related subjects, you can select such subjects for graduation. They can prove helpful when you become a zookeeper.