Step by step guide to becoming an animal keeper

Animal keepers often work in zoos, aquariums or amusement parks. They create meal plans for animals, clean animal enclosures and report injuries or unusual behavior. Animal keepers at zoos are usually assigned a number of animals to care for. They may also answer questions from the public or interact with students and classes on field trips. Some keepers work with broad groups of animals, such as birds, mammals and reptiles, while others specialize in subgroups such as primates or cats. Working in this profession requires a love for animals. However, some tasks, such as cleaning cages or grooming can be unpleasant. There is also always the risk of being injured by a scared or aggressive animal.

What does an animal keeper do?

An animal keeper, also known as an animal caretaker, animal attendant or animal-care technician, keeps animals safe, well-fed and housed in clean and appropriate environments. His job may require knowledge of the proper care of many types of animals, or he may be responsible for only one species of animal. Common settings for this job include animal shelters, clinics and kennels. More exotic workplaces may include wild animal menageries or exhibits, circuses and zoos.

In a kennel, the animal keeper is solely in charge of dogs. He is generally expected to feed each dog per standard guidelines regarding content, vitamins, supplements and whether the food is to be served dry or wet. If the animal requires medication, the keeper is normally relied upon to carefully monitor the amount and frequency of the dosage. Keeping the kennel and dogs clean and free of common parasites, such as ticks and fleas, is typically the animal keeper’s job. He also commonly plays with the animals and notes any unusual behavior or physical changes in the dogs’ gaits or appearance.

Animal shelters and clinics customarily house a wide range of animals. These regularly include common house pets, such as dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and birds. The same guidelines used in kennel care normally apply to an animal keeper employed in these environments as well.

What kind of skills are required?

In addition to understanding how to deal with wildlife safely, you must have strong skills in math, which is necessary to calculate an animal’s weight and determine how much food is necessary. Writing skills are key as you typically write daily reports about each animal under your care. Brushing up on your public speaking skills through practice or taking classes helps prepare you for sharing knowledge about the animals with the public. Being physically fit also is important; you spend much of your time outdoors on your feet, often carrying heavy buckets of food or waste.

The steps to becoming an animal caretaker

  1. Learn about animals
  2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (preferably in zoology or animal sciences)
  3. Gain hands-on experience
  4. Advance to higher positions
  5. Consider a professional certificate for career advancement