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Zookeeper Job Requirements

  • Extensive experience in animal care
  • Degree in zoology or closely related field is helpful, but not necessary
  • Experience with a wide variety of animals, large and small is a plus
  • Minimum one-year experience with animals required, excluding personal household pets; additional experience preferred
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old

A Closer Look

The requirements listed above are minimum requirements to be a zookeeper at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Recently hired zookeepers have 4-year degrees in a life science discipline or a related field of study, as well as several years of experience as zookeepers at other zoos.

In addition to having a 4-year degree in a life science, it is important to have as much hands-on experience with exotic animals as possible. To gain experience, we suggest volunteering with wildlife rehabilitation organizations and interning at zoos. The next step after volunteering and interning is a seasonal position at a zoo. Seasonal keepers have a greater chance of being hired on as permanent staff members, because the organization has an opportunity to get to know the keeper better.

Zookeeping is a very competitive career, especially at large and well known zoos. Those serious about pursuing a zookeeper career must be prepared to move. Internships and seasonal positions are not always available locally; prospective zookeepers often move across the country for seasonal zookeeper jobs.

Zookeepers perform a variety of tasks from raking, shoveling, scooping, hosing, scrubbing, cutting-up and feeding-out diets. Other tasks include making and providing enrichment for the animals, training cooperative behaviors, as well as some veterinary work.

Interested in joining the American Association of Zoo Keepers? Click here to learn more.

Learn more about job opportunities by visiting the Milwaukee County Department of Human Resources website.