Anyone who has visited a wild animal park or refuge has likely seen a zookeeper or two on duty. These are the people who help maintain the habitats and look out for wild animals housed in these zoological parks. Good zookeepers not only help care for and monitor the health of the animals they work with, but also provide education to the general public and zoo visitors. A good zookeeper can help build awareness about species in the wild and grow enthusiasm towards conservation and wild habitat maintenance.
Much of the work that zookeepers do might sound routine to non-animal lovers, but most persons in the profession are passionate about it. Zookeepers oversee the proper feeding and nutrition of the animals in their care. They also help maintain a clean and healthy environment for their animals, and this typically means supervising the cleaning of waste from zoo habitats. This work also forms the first part of the health monitoring work that zookeepers do, as eating and excretory anomalies in animals are often a first sign of a health condition.
To work as a zookeeper, a person must have the right mix of aptitude, experience, and education. An affection for animals and understanding of their unique needs is a must. Many zookeepers also start their careers very young, acting as zoo volunteers and assistants doing menial labor around the park. Of greatest importance, perhaps, is a college degree in animal sciences, biology, environmental science, or veterinary science. Most zookeepers work long hours and must be on call overnights and weekends for any emergencies that require their attention.
Prepare animal diets according to prescription determined by Management.
Follow American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) Code of Professional Ethics and Species Survival Plan (SSP) Guidelines.
Recommend improvements in animal care procedures and schedules.
Recognize diseases and carry out treatments prescribed by zoo veterinarian and/or Management.
Clean zoo exhibits and grounds and maintain general upkeep of the animal habitat.