A zookeeper is responsible for the health, feeding and care of the various animals within the zoo or animal facility. A zookeeper usually works with a variety of wild and exotic animals but may specialize in caring for one specific type of animal such as nocturnal animals, reptiles, birds or even primates. The major responsibilities of the zookeeper focus on the feeding and maintenance of the animal’s cage or enclosure however they also watch for changes in behavior or patterns that could indicate health concerns.
The zookeeper prepares and provides the food to animals in their care. The food must be prepared according to specific nutritional and dietary guidelines. The zookeeper may also be required to add supplements or even mix in medications when required. The individual must also clean the animal’s cages and keep the environment free from potentially dangerous compounds, items or debris. Proper safety procedures must be followed at all times as the animals under the zookeeper’s care are not tame, rather they are wild animals in captivity.
The zookeeper must also be knowledgeable on the various animals within the facility and should be able to provide information to visitors and guests of the zoo or game farm. Many zookeepers provide guided tours or even go to schools or community events to provide education to the public about the various animals found in the zoo or wildlife farm. Some zookeepers act as mentors to interns and apprentices that are learning about the career and provide both educational information and specific safety training for working with the various animals.
Common work activities include:
- Preparing food and feeding all the animals that are under the zookeeper’s care.
- Following all safety guidelines and regulations for entering animal enclosures and cages.
- Keeping the cages and enclosures clean and free from unsanitary conditions cause by uneaten food and waste materials.
- Monitoring and recording all behaviors of the various animals in their care including amount of food consumed, changes in behavior, fertility cycles or other necessary information.
- Providing educational tours, answering questions or responding to concerns from visitors and guests to the facility.
- Working with zoo managers, veterinarians, biologists and other professionals to ensure the proper care for all animals within the zoo or wildlife farm.