Becoming a Zoo keeper requires much more than just a love of animals.
Zoo keepers provide the highest level of health and species management, welfare, husbandry and exhibit design for the animals under their care. This enables Perth Zoo to provide a living example of natural habitats, collection planning and species management that reflect world priorities in conservation. At Perth Zoo, there are around 50 full and part-time zoo keeper positions. When advertised these positions are highly competitive and applicants apply from all over Australia (and overseas).
A keeper’s duties include the care and maintenance of animals and exhibits (raking, hosing, sweeping, scrubbing enclosures) and the preparation of food. They make regular observations, keep detailed records, administer treatments under veterinary supervision, assist in the capture and restraint of animals, and communicate with the Zoo’s visitors.
Zoo keeping is manually demanding and potentially dangerous work, so staff need to be fit and alert at all times. They also need to be able to advocate for the animals under their care and make ethically appropriate decisions.
Our zoo keepers generally work eight-hours-per-day, somewhere between the hours of 6:00am and 6:00pm. They work on a rotating roster and wages are paid under the Zoo’s General Agreement and Award. All keepers have access to a clear and structured career path, progressing through different levels – Trainee, Keeper, Senior Keeper, Supervisor, Curator, Director. Perth Zoo encourages ‘life-long learning’ and is committed to ensuring staff have the opportunity for professional development.
Successful candidates for an entry level zoo keeper position will be able to demonstrate they meet the following criteria.
- Experience in the husbandry and management of captive animals in a zoo or similar environment.
- Knowledge of Occupational Health and Safety issues associated with a zoo or similar environment.
- Ability to express ideas and information effectively both verbally and in writing, including public speaking and observing/reporting animal behaviour.
- Interpersonal skills and a proven capacity to work with others in a small team and with limited supervision.
- Knowledge of and commitment to, conservation, in line with the role of Zoos.
For more senior zoo keeping positions you will be required to have a Certificate III in Zoo Keeping or Captive Animals or a relevant tertiary qualification or equivalent zoo keeping experience.
Tips on how to gain the necessary qualifications and experience:
Study Biology or Human Biology in Year 11 and 12
Study in the Biological Sciences at University:
Study a relevant tertiary-level certification
Become a wildlife volunteer with the Department of Parks and Wildlife or at a wildlife rehabilitation centre (ARCS, Kanyana, NativeARK, the Fauna Rehabilitation Foundation)
Work at a fauna park, pet store, horse stable or vet surgery to gain experience in working with animals.
When keeper vacancies arise they are advertised on the Government website at jobs.wa.gov.au
Department of Parks & Wildlife
Department of Fisheries
Department of Agriculture
Animal Resource Centre
Universities (research assistants, animal technicians)