Anonymous asked: What made you decide to be a zookeeper? I'm going to be a college freshman in the fall and having lots of trouble deciding if I should major in Zoology or Wildlife Conservation. I'm not sure if I want to work in a zoo or as a wildlife biologist doing population surveys and similar stuff. I'm leaning more towards zoo work, but people act like in order to get hired, you need 10 years of experience and a PhD. Any advice on how to choose between these two paths? I refuse to do animal testing.
Okay, first, you do not need 10 years of experience or a PhD to be a zookeeper. You should have a bachelor’s degree and maybe an internship or two, and/or a seasonal position. It’s true that the field is extremely competitive, but if you’re very patient and very persistent, you will get in.
Check out my previous post on Wildlife Biology vs. Zoology in terms of coursework and career options. (Wildlife Conservation would probably be very similar to Wildlife Biology — both involve population management and genetics.)
My major was Wildlife Biology. I wanted to be a zookeeper before I started college, and I wanted to be one because I had always loved animals and wanted to be around them, and when I first volunteered at a zoo for a brief time at the age of 16, it just clicked with me. I loved the work (difficult and dirty though it was), and I loved getting to know the animals and seeing them every day. I’m also super passionate about wildlife conservation, and after some self-reflection I decided that my particular skills and strengths are better suited to a zoo setting than to field work, and since I would still be able to work on conservation projects as a zookeeper it was kind of a no-brainer.
I have never done animal testing and am not sure you’d have to in either major (though Zoology is more likely to include dissections, which is different but worth noting). The closest link to animal testing I could think of would be if you used your Zoology degree to get a job in a laboratory where animal testing happens, which of course you do not have to do.