So you want to be a zookeeper.
Have you always wanted to work with animals? Do you have a passion for conservation? If the answers are yes, then you are well on your way. As with many careers these days, job-seeking in the zoo world has become very competitive. It is sometimes particularly hard to get experience working with animals. In addition, many positions require a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology, or a related field of study. The best way to get experience is to apply for an internship with animals.
The Cincinnati Zoo has recently re-vamped our animal care internship program. The traditional internship has been reinvented as the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Animal Keeping Training Course. The training course lasts 16-weeks (40 hours per week unpaid, un-benefited) and occurs Summer, Fall, and Winter. The positions encompass the education of skilled professional and technical work in the routine daily care of assigned animals, enclosures and related facilities within a particular animal department.
Through goals set by interns and staff, each intern follows a curriculum designed to provide a basic skill set and experience for becoming an animal keeper in an AZA institution. Each week a new topic is presented and discussed. Topics include (but aren’t limited to) basic husbandry, operant conditioning, enrichment, nutrition, veterinary care, public speaking and presentations, green practices and conservation, and job-seeking/interview skills. Interns are responsible for completing 4 separate projects related directly to the animals they will be caring for. Mid-session and final reviews are conducted in order to provide each intern with constructive feedback about their contribution to the internship.
If you think this internship matches your goals in life, you will need to meet the following requirements in order to apply: 1) Current college junior or senior working toward an animal related degree, Biology, Zoology etc.; or within one year of graduation with a related degree. 2) Demonstrate commitment to working with wildlife in a zoo setting. 3) Comfortable working with a diverse collection encompassing all classes of animals.
As testament to the strength of this training course, one of our past interns gave us this feedback: “This internship has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life! I have learned so much thanks to the generosity and time of others. All of the topics covered facilitated my professional growth and has solidified my desire to be a zookeeper. This internship, with its well-developed curriculum should set the bar for internships in zoos across the country.” Wow! What an amazing compliment. However, we will never rest on our laurels, continuing always to improve and modify the content in order to provide the best experience possible.
So if you have the desire, educational background, and commitment to work with animals in a zoo setting, apply for the Zoo’s Animal Keeping Training Course. We are currently accepting applications for the winter section. Check out www.cincinnatizoo.org/about-us/job-opportunities/ for more information and to apply. This is an amazing opportunity to get animal care experience at a world class institution!