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A Zookeeper by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.

Photo Credit Jim, the Photographer

Photo Credit Jim, the Photographer

What is a Zoo Keeper

When I started in the Zoo Industry fifty plus years ago there were Zookeepers, Head Keepers and Curators and not much more than that. One or two places stretched the designations a little but not many.

In recent years there has been a move away from 'Zoo Keeper' almost as if the collection is ashamed of the designation.

Today we have Animal Care Technician, Animal Care Supervisor, Animal Care Specialist, Caretaker, Trainer, Aquarist, Animal Husbandry Specialist, Animal Carer, Caregiver, Ranger, Animal Technician, Animal Attendant, Animal Warden, Animal Handler, Livestock Manager, Conservation Technician, Zoologist, XXX Specialist, Husbandry Manager and a host of others which are all essentialy Zoo Keeper roles.

Some may argue that the titles refer to something different, but they don't. I have been advertising Zoo vacancies to the industry for thirty plus years and have read the job descriptions. These are all Zoo Keepers. Duties may differ slightly in each collection but not by very much.

We now have specialist positions advertised such as Lepidopterist, Hoof stock, Primates, Small Mammals, Elephants, Gorillas and more but even then they are all Zoo Keepers.

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Be A Zoo Keeper | Get My Job

Everyone (or mostly) is becoming more professional and I welcome that and things are (mostly) changing for the better. There is more training and increasingly (sadly) academic restrictions to getting work in zoos.

Today the number of Zoo Directors who started their careers as Zoo Keepers are fewer in number. So too are those Zoo Keepers who have chosen never to look towards moving up the ladder being content with their lot within their Keeper role.

How to become a Zookeeper

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