PRO TIPS FOR FIGURING OUT IF THE ZOO FIELD IS FOR YOU
GAIN EXPERIENCE WITH ANIMALS
It may help to get a part time job or volunteer position working with or around animals now. Even as a high school student, you can get a job working kennels at a local veterinary hospital or volunteering at a local animal shelter. This work is with domestic animals and parts of it are dirty. You may have to clean up poop and vomit, see blood, and sometimes deal with angry or even mean animals. But this kind of work can be a great way to get a feel for whether you really like working with animals or if you just think they’re cute.
CONNECT WITH YOUR LOCAL ZOO OR AQUARIUM
Check out what opportunities are available for you at a nearby zoo or aquarium. If you are a high school student, there may be teen programs available. These are usually based in public education and have responsibilities such as talking to zoo visitors or working with younger kids in camp programs. Some zoos do have teen programs that involve hands on work with collection animals – it’s always worth asking. If you are over 18 years of age then you may qualify for a volunteer position at a zoo, aquarium or exotic wildlife facility. These opportunities can be outstanding ways to get introduced to this field and the people who work in it – and a great foundation for thinking realistically about your future career goals.
TALK WITH CURRENT ANIMAL PROFESSIONALS
Talk to as many people who work with animals as you can. Most people who work with animals can’t wait to talk to you about their career. Talk to a local veterinarian, farmer, or wildlife rehabilitator and find out what they really do and what they do and don’t like about their job. Explore the AMZAP network and virtually meet some zoo professionals. Then contact AMZAP – we love sharing our passion with prospective colleagues.
Kyle Miller in Jamaica.