Want to learn more about how to land your dream job as a zoo keeper? Being such an amazing job it’s not always that easy, but check out some of our feedback below to help guide you.
How do I become a zoo keeper? What qualifications do I need?
Zoos SA employs around 50 keepers on a full-time, part-time, contract and casual basis at its two sites, Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Zoo. The turnover of staff in this field is quite low and competition for jobs is fierce.
It’s extremely difficult to get work in this industry in SA. While we do not require any formal pre-requisites as such, any animal related study demonstrates to us your interest in this field of work. In Years 11 & 12, look to study biology or a related area. Other relevant studies include Certificate and Diploma courses in Animal Technology run by the Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE , a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Zoology at University or studies in Environmental Management may also be useful.
Any voluntary work for a sustained period in an animal-related area is also indicative of your interest in the field. Zoos SA members can apply to do voluntary work at both Adelaide and Monarto Zoos. The areas available for voluntary work do not include zoo keeping. Further information on this program can be obtained by contacting the Manager of Volunteer Programs on 8267 3255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you gain permanent employment with us, you will be asked to complete studies which are zoo-specific and only available to people working in the industry.
What does a zoo keeper actually do?
Zoo keepers look after the general health and wellbeing of animals and also assist in the upkeep of their exhibits. Animals include mammals, birds or reptiles, both exotic and native. The job involves a lot of physical work including lifting, raking, shovelling, scrubbing, hosing, food preparation and pushing wheelbarrows or sulo bins, as well as assisting in the capture and restraint of animals. Zoo keepers also need to keep accurate records on their animals’ health and behaviour and present talks to visitors, therefore good communication skills, both written and verbal are also required.
What other qualities do you look for in a zoo keeper?
Animal related studies may play one part in the recruitment process, but we always look for the right attitude in potential staff. People looking for a career in zoo keeping must be passionate about animals and conservation in general, be willing to work in all weather extremes, have a team-friendly approach to working and be willing to convey information to visitors. As we are open every day of the year, you will need to work regular weekends and public holidays according to a 7-day roster.
Do you offer traineeships or internships relating to zoo keeping?
Unfortunately, we currently do not have the capacity to offer these programs.
Besides zoo keeping, what other areas of employment are available at the Zoo?
There are many sorts of jobs which contribute to the success of Zoos SA. These include:
- Conservation management
- Collection development
- Horticulture trades
- Building / Maintenance trades (welding, carpentry, plumbing, concreting, painting)
- Veterinary Science
- Research Science
- Visitor Services
- Marketing, Events and Tourism
- Media and publications
- Memberships / sponsorships
- Graphic Design
- Human Resources
When vacancies occur we may place advertisements on websites (such as seek.com.au or Zoo industry websites such as ZAA & ASZK). On occasions we may also be using Davies Stewart recruiting agency.