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 80 keepers on a full-time, part-time, contract and casual basis at its two sites, Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park. 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. Formal pre-requisites such as animal related study are not essential; they do however demonstrate to us your interest in this field of work. Secondary studies in Years 11 & 12, in the area of biology or a related area can support future studies in animal husbandry.
Studies in Certificate III in Captive Animals is regarded as the Trade qualification for a Keeper. This can be undertaken through a number of providers including The Taronga Training Institute which runs an intensive, 12-month course beginning in February each year. The classroom sessions are conducted over 5 x 1 week blocks throughout the year with most taking place at a classroom at Adelaide Zoo.
Other relevant studies include Certificate and Diploma courses in Animal Technology, 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 Zoo and Monarto Safari Park. For further information on this please look at our Volunteer page. (https://www.zoossa.com.au/support-us/become-a-volunteer/)
What does a zoo keeper actually do?
Our keepers are responsible for delivering high standards of animal care, supporting our breeding programs, conducting animal training and management practices for all our animals.
Keepers also assist with the aid of our horticulture and works team maintain our animal exhibits. Animals in our care include native Australian animals, exotic animals and endangered species and are exhibited across Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park.
The role of a keeper involves a lot of physical work including lifting, raking, shovelling, scrubbing, hosing, food preparation and pushing wheelbarrows, as well as assisting in the capture and restraint of animals for training or medical purposes.
Zoo keepers interact highly with visitors through behind the scenes encounters and keeper presentations to engage and enhance our visitor experiences.
What other qualities do you look for in a zoo keeper?
At Zoos SA we have a big purpose we are on a mission to connect more people with nature more than ever before, to engage and inspire people to care about wildlife and conservation so that we can achieve our ultimate goal to save species from extinction.
Therefore what we do, say & how we behave matters – so the right attitude and commitment to our purpose is essential.
Animal related studies may play one part in the selection process, it will be your attitude that sets you apart from the competition. 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 engage and convey information to visitors.
As we are open every day of the year, as a Keeper 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.