Career Corner Life as a... Zookeeper

If the idea of hanging around with animals for the majority of your day gets you excited, and the mere thought of being trapped behind a desk in a 9-5 job makes you shudder, then a career as a zookeeper may be the perfect line of work for you.

However, as fun and rewarding as it may be, it's not just about cuddling up to cute critters all day - it can be mucky and exhausting! In the clip above from The Secret Life Of The Zoo, primate keeper Chris wakes up to an unexpected (and messy) surprise, but one which excites him in equal measure. Watch full episodes of Secret Life Of The Zoo here.

To help you understand in more detail what a career in zoo-keeping involves, take a look at some facts and figures below...


Would you Consider a career as a zookeeper?



To get into this industry, you'll usually be required to have A* - C GCSEs in English, Maths or Science, or equivalent. Any qualifications in animal care or animal science would also give you that extra push in securing a position.


Hour Power

If you are looking to get a structured 9-5 job, then this isn't the route for you! Zookeepers will often work shifts. You may also have to work weekends and bank holidays, so you'll need to be someone who's flexible with their time.


Show me the monkey

So, what can you expect to earn as a zookeeper? As a starter, you are likely to make between £10,500 and £16,000. More experienced keepers will take home around £25,000.


No job too big

Your day-to-day tasks could include anything from preparing food for the meerkats, to cleaning out the giraffe enclosure. You'll also take care of sick animals, check for signs of injury and disease and keep healthcare records.


Safari so good

In a large zoo or safari, you can progress from the position of zookeeper to head keeper. You could even advance onto the position of curator. Or you could take a slightly different path to that of education or conservation research.


Let's get phyzoocal

This is not likely to be a job in which you'll have much time to sit down and relax - it's physically demanding and requires both commitment and patience! You'll be expected to work in adverse weather conditions too... even the snow can't stop you.


Satisfaction guaranteed

Although tough, being a zookeeper can be one of the most rewarding jobs out there. There's nothing quite like creating a bond with an animal, and knowing that you're making a real difference to their lives.

SO, you now know the basics - where do you go from here? These links can guide you in the right direction...

  • The National Careers Service
  • The ZSL guide to sing a zookeeper
  • Zoo-keeping at TotalJobs
  • Work at Chester Zoo
  • Do you have a question you'd like to see here?

    Is it normal to...

    We are not able to provide individual answers to questions submitted through the site. This form is only a means of suggesting broader topics you would like to see addressed here in the future and is not monitored daily. If you are distressed we recommend talking to a family member or visiting our 4Viewers (Opens in a new window) for further information on a range of topics.