Is Zookeeper in Animal Care a Good Career?

is zookeeper in animal care a good career

If you are passionate about animal conservation and care, then zookeeping may be the right career path for you. A zookeeper’s job entails ensuring the welfare and health of animals in their care, educating visitors, and advancing conservation efforts. But is becoming a zookeeper in animal care a good career choice?

In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of this career choice, examine the career prospects of being a zookeeper, and provide insights into the opportunities available within the animal care industry. We will also highlight the necessary skills needed to excel in the zookeeping profession and the potential salary ranges.

Key Takeaways:

  • Zookeeping can be a fulfilling career for those passionate about animal care and conservation.
  • Career prospects for zookeepers are growing due to increased demand and interest in conservation efforts.
  • Being a zookeeper requires specialized skills and knowledge of animal behavior, nutrition, and welfare.
  • Salary potential for zookeepers can vary based on experience, location, and job responsibilities.
  • Zookeeping offers emotional rewards, personal fulfillment, and the opportunity to make a positive impact on animal conservation efforts.

Career Prospects of Being a Zookeeper

Individuals interested in animal care industry careers have a multitude of job opportunities to explore, and zookeeping is a field that offers a promising career path. As a zookeeper, one can expect to work with a wide range of species, from exotic and endangered to domestic, and provide comprehensive care to ensure their well-being.

The demand for zookeepers is steadily growing, and the career prospects of being a zookeeper are bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 20,100 jobs in this profession in 2020, with an expected growth rate of 16% from 2020 to 2030. This growth rate is well above the national average for all occupations, indicating excellent job opportunities to entering the field.

Moreover, job opportunities in animal care are varied and can range from positions at zoos and aquariums to research facilities and wildlife rehabilitation centers. Some zookeepers may also opt to specialize in areas such as animal training, behavioral research, and education, further expanding their career options.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (May 2020) Job Outlook
Zookeeper $27,040 16% growth rate from 2020 to 2030
Animal Trainer $30,610 16% growth rate from 2020 to 2030
Marine Mammal Trainer $28,540 16% growth rate from 2020 to 2030
Wildlife Biologist $63,270 4% growth rate from 2020 to 2030

The table above provides an overview of the median annual salaries for various job titles related to animal care industry careers and their respective job outlooks. It shows that not only is the field of zookeeping experiencing growth in job opportunities, but related professions, such as animal training and wildlife biology, are also expected to see an increase in demand and earning potential.

Benefits of Becoming a Zookeeper

There are numerous benefits to becoming a zookeeper, including the job satisfaction that comes with working closely with animals.

Animal care job satisfaction is a key driver for many individuals who decide to pursue a career as a zookeeper. Caring for exotic and often endangered animals provides a sense of fulfillment that is hard to match in other professions. The clear impact that a zookeeper can have on the wellbeing and conservation of animals can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.

Working as a zookeeper also allows individuals to develop a range of important skills required for a zookeeper. These skills can include animal handling and observation, communication, and attention to detail. Additionally, a passion for conservation and the ability to work in a team are highly valued qualities in this field.

Zookeepers also benefit from a diverse and engaging work environment, where no two days are the same. From training to feeding, cleaning to providing medical care, zookeepers are tasked with a wide range of responsibilities that keep their work engaging and challenging.

Benefits of Becoming a Zookeeper

Job Satisfaction and Fulfillment

Working as a zookeeper can be incredibly fulfilling, providing tangible and meaningful contributions to the welfare of animals. Being involved in conservation efforts and helping to maintain exotic and endangered species also provides a sense of fulfillment in work that is hard to find in other careers.

Skills Required for a Zookeeper

Animal Handling and Observation Communication Attention to Detail Teamwork Conservation
Zookeepers must have experience handling a range of animals, providing them with the necessary care and attention they require. Communication is key in a zookeeping role, whether it be working with colleagues or conveying important information to visitors. Attention to detail is essential in ensuring that the animals in a zoo are healthy and safe. Zookeepers need to be able to work effectively with others, whether it is other zoo staff or visitors to the facility. A passion for conservation is essential for those working in animal care. Zookeepers play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity and preserving endangered species.

Overall, the benefits of becoming a zookeeper are many and varied. From job satisfaction and personal fulfillment to the development of important skills and a diverse work environment, it is a career that can be both rewarding and challenging.

The Zookeeping Profession

Zookeepers play a critical role in animal care, ensuring the health and welfare of animals in their care while also contributing to important conservation efforts. The profession requires a unique blend of skills, including animal behavior observation, husbandry techniques, and knowledge of nutrition, biology, and veterinary care.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

A zookeeper’s daily responsibilities vary depending on the animals under their care, but typically involve feeding, cleaning, and monitoring animals’ behavior and welfare. This includes creating and implementing enrichment programs to promote animal mental and physical wellbeing and working closely with veterinarians to maintain animal health.

Zookeepers may also provide educational talks and tours to visitors, answer questions and contribute to conservation efforts by participating in research programs or outreach initiatives.


Working in the zookeeping profession requires dedication, patience, and an unwavering commitment to animal welfare. It can be physically and emotionally demanding, with long hours, unpredictable schedules, and exposure to inclement weather conditions and potentially dangerous animals.

Additionally, zookeepers must be vigilant in adhering to strict safety protocols to ensure their safety and the safety of the animals in their care.


Despite the challenges, zookeeping can be a highly rewarding profession. Zookeepers develop deep bonds with the animals in their care, contributing to their health and wellbeing while also playing an essential role in conservation efforts to protect and preserve endangered species.

Moreover, the satisfaction of educating visitors about conservation and animal welfare, and the opportunity to contribute to research and conservation initiatives, can provide a sense of personal fulfillment beyond the daily responsibilities of the job.

Overall, the zookeeping profession offers a unique and fulfilling career path for animal lovers interested in contributing to animal welfare and conservation efforts.

Salary Potential for Zookeepers

One of the critical factors that influence the decision to pursue a career as a zookeeper is salary potential. While a zookeeper’s salary varies depending on several factors, such as location, experience, and job responsibilities, it can be a lucrative career option for animal care enthusiasts.

Factors affecting salary

As mentioned earlier, several factors can affect a zookeeper’s salary. For instance:

  • Location: Zookeepers working in metropolitan areas tend to earn more than those in rural areas due to higher living costs and demand.
  • Experience and education: Experienced zookeepers with a degree in animal care or relevant programs tend to earn more than those with less experience or no qualification.
  • Job responsibilities: Zookeepers in management positions tend to earn more than those in entry-level positions.

Salary ranges and growth opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the median salary for zookeepers was $26,040 annually, with the highest earners making more than $39,530 yearly. Keep in mind that this is just the median salary and not a guarantee for every zookeeper.

While the initial salary for entry-level zookeepers might not seem enticing, there are growth opportunities in the profession. As zookeepers gain more experience and take up managerial roles, they can expect higher salaries and other benefits such as health coverage, retirement plans, etc.

In conclusion, Salary potential is an essential factor to consider when deciding to become a zookeeper. While it might not be the most lucrative career, it comes with a lot of rewards and opportunities for growth and personal satisfaction.

Job Satisfaction in Animal Care

Working as a zookeeper in animal care can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Not only do you get to work with a variety of animals every day, but you also get to play a crucial role in their well-being and conservation efforts.

The emotional and personal satisfaction that comes with the job is immeasurable. You get to witness the impact of your efforts as you watch animals thrive and make progress under your care.

To further illustrate the point, we spoke to several experienced zookeepers who shared their thoughts on the most fulfilling aspects of their job:

Name Zoo Job Title Testimony on job satisfaction
Emily Martinez Oregon Zoo Zookeeper “It’s hard to put into words the feeling of satisfaction when you see an animal that’s been under your care make a successful recovery or give birth to healthy offspring. You just know you made a difference.”
James Lee San Diego Zoo Senior Keeper “For me, the best part of the job is building relationships with the animals that you care for. It’s amazing how much they can recognize and respond to you, especially when you’ve been looking after them for a while.”
Amanda Torres Columbus Zoo Lead Keeper “Animal care can be challenging at times, but there’s always a sense of satisfaction when you know that you’re doing everything you can to support the animals. It feels good to be part of a team that’s making a difference.”

Clearly, zookeeping can offer an incredible sense of job satisfaction. If you’re passionate about animal welfare and conservation, this career path could be an excellent fit for you.

Skills Required for a Zookeeper

Being a zookeeper requires a unique set of skills and qualifications. In addition to a passion for animals, aspiring zookeepers must also have strong communication and teamwork abilities. They should be comfortable working outdoors in various weather conditions, and able to physically handle the demands of the job.

Hands-on animal experience is also essential, as zookeepers must be able to confidently handle and care for a variety of species. Animal observation skills are critical, as they must be vigilant in monitoring animal behavior, recognizing potential health or behavioral issues, and implementing appropriate responses.

Furthermore, zookeepers should have a solid foundation in biology and conservation principles, including knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and exhibit design. They should be able to effectively communicate these topics to colleagues, visitors, and volunteers.

Skills required for a zookeeper

Key Skills for a Successful Zookeeper:

  • Physical fitness: Zookeepers must be able to handle strenuous physical work, such as moving heavy objects or restraining large animals.
  • Animal handling: Handling animals requires patience, strong observational skills, and experience working with a diverse range of species.
  • Communication: Zookeepers must communicate effectively with colleagues, management, and the public, whether verbally or in written reports.
  • Problem-solving: Zookeepers must be able to respond to unexpected situations, such as animal escapes or medical emergencies, in a calm, quick, and effective manner.
  • Knowledge of biology and conservation: They must have a solid understanding of animal nutrition, anatomy, and behavior, as well as conservation and animal welfare laws and regulations.

In summary, entering the field of zookeeping requires a passion for animals, physical fitness, and a diverse set of skills and knowledge. However, for those who possess the necessary skills and are willing to work hard, zookeeping can be a career that offers both personal fulfillment and professional growth.


After examining the various factors that contribute to a career as a zookeeper in animal care, it is safe to say that yes, it is a good career option for those passionate about animals and conservation. Not only does the profession offer diverse job opportunities within the animal care industry, but it also provides a sense of personal fulfillment and job satisfaction that few other careers can match.

As we explored in this article, the benefits of becoming a zookeeper include the opportunity to work closely with animals, contribute to conservation efforts, and develop essential skills and qualities such as communication, problem-solving, and organization. Additionally, the salary potential for zookeepers is competitive, with ample room for growth and advancement.

While the role of a zookeeper does come with its challenges and responsibilities, the emotional rewards of making a positive impact on animal welfare and conservation efforts cannot be overstated. Therefore, those considering a career in animal care should seriously consider becoming a zookeeper and pursuing this fulfilling and meaningful profession.

Overall, if you have a passion for animals, a desire to make a positive impact on the world, and the necessary skills and qualifications, becoming a zookeeper in animal care is undoubtedly an excellent career choice.

So, is zookeeper in animal care a good career? Absolutely.


Is being a zookeeper in animal care a good career?

Yes, being a zookeeper in animal care can be a highly rewarding and fulfilling career choice. It allows individuals to work closely with animals, contribute to conservation efforts, and make a positive impact on animal welfare.

What are the career prospects of being a zookeeper?

Being a zookeeper opens up a wide range of job opportunities within the animal care industry. There is a growing demand for animal care professionals, with zoos, wildlife parks, and conservation organizations constantly seeking qualified individuals to fill positions.

What are the benefits of becoming a zookeeper?

Becoming a zookeeper offers numerous benefits, including job satisfaction from working with animals and contributing to their well-being. It provides an opportunity to educate the public about wildlife conservation and offers a dynamic and challenging work environment.

What does the zookeeping profession entail?

The zookeeping profession involves a variety of responsibilities, including providing daily care for animals, monitoring their health, designing and implementing enrichment programs, and maintaining their exhibits. Zookeepers also play a crucial role in animal conservation efforts and public education.

What is the salary potential for zookeepers?

The salary potential for zookeepers can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the size of the facility. Entry-level positions typically have a lower salary, but with experience and advancement, zookeepers can potentially earn a competitive income.

What is the job satisfaction like in animal care?

Job satisfaction in animal care, particularly as a zookeeper, is often high. Being able to work closely with animals, witness their well-being and behavioral improvements, and contribute to conservation efforts can be emotionally rewarding and fulfilling.

What skills are required to become a zookeeper?

To become a zookeeper, essential skills include animal handling and observation skills, knowledge of biology and conservation principles, the ability to work as part of a team, and strong communication skills. Physical stamina and a genuine passion for animals are also important.

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