Overview of a Zoologists Career
Zoologists are life scientists who study animals, observing them both in the laboratory and in their natural habitat.
They study the origin and development of species, their habits, behaviours and interactions.
They also research the development of animal diseases. Zoologists are sometimes known as animal scientists or animal biologists, as zoology is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom.
Zoology is a wide field offering many career opportunities for research, as there is still a great deal to learn. It offers a way to make a difference to the planet's ecology through conservation work. Most zoologists are employed by colleges and universities, where they undertake research and teach students. Here is a brief summary of some of the main careers available.
- Zookeepers are employed by a zoo or aquarium, where they manage and befriend the animals on display.
- Zoo Curators are responsible for acquiring animals for zoos, either through breeding programs, through purchase from other zoos, or very occasionally from the wild.
- Animal and Wildlife Educators work in a public venue, such as a sanctuary, museum or aquarium, the educator creates a range of materials that help visitors to understand the wildlife they are seeing.
- Wildlife Rehabilitaters care for ill, injured or orphaned wild animals that have been damaged by bush fires, oil spills, or other major disasters. They are responsible for then releasing the animals back into the wild.
- Animal Behaviourists train zoo employees how to interact with and successfully care for animals. They are usually trained in ethology (the study of animal behaviour in natural habitats) and have had direct experience working with animals themselves.
- Conservationist work for conservation agencies, reporting on what is impacting on a particular species' survival or on a region's ecosystem.
- Researchers conduct research in private organisations or in university departments, where they also teach students.
Daily tasks for zoology careers
With such a wide range of different zoology careers, daily tasks vary enormously. Here are a few of the key tasks in some of the roles.
A zookeeper's role includes:
- Preparing animals' meals.
- Caring for the animals.
- Cleaning enclosures.
- Monitoring and recording behaviour.
- Ensuring that animals are healthy.
- Grooming, exercising and training the animals.
- Talking to visiting groups about the animals; etc.
Amongst other duties, a wildlife educator will:
- Reside at the venue and study, research and explore various intricacies of wildlife behaviour.
- Research and write information to be printed as leaflets, brochures, etc.
- Write information for websites.
- Prepare information for educational visits.
- Design and prepare displays.
- Buy or rear animals for exhibiting; etc.
A researcher will:
- Run experiments.
- Identify new data achieved through research.
- Use data to help solve environmental or health problems.
- Breed and raise specimens.
- Dissect animals and preserve their bodies.
- Use computers, microscopes, and other equipment to analyse and record their findings.
- Prepare collections of preserved specimens or slides for identification and study.
- Research species in their natural surroundings.
- Collect specimens to study in the lab.
- Collect or catalogue species.
- Write papers and give speeches.
- Prepare grant proposals to gain funding; etc.
A rehabilitater will:
- Care for ill, injured or orphaned wild animals and birds.
- Release them back in to their habitat.
- Acquire relevant permits from state and federal wildlife agencies; etc.