Wild Animal Keeper
Year zoo career began:
Jose Muniz is a Wild Animal Keeper at the Queens Zoo where he helps care for a bevy of North and South American animals. His job includes basic animal husbandry like cleaning and maintaining exhibits, assist with training, create enrichment for animals, observe animal behaviors, and educate and entertain guests.
Jose attended school in upstate New York to study engineering, but after studying abroad in Costa Rica to research Mantled Howler Monkeys, Jose switched his focus on working professionally with animals. Jose became a field intern at the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy, where he learned the importance of wildlife and wild places for the local community. This solidified his decision to work with animals. Jose has always loved animals but never thought he could work with them; the opportunities to learn were never really there. After becoming a seasonal keeper at the Bronx Zoo and later a full time keeper at the Queens Zoo, he realized the importance of what the presence of minority zookeepers can do.
Jose’s favorite part of his job is watching the animals behave as they typically would in the wild. He also enjoys the creativity part of his job, thinking outside the box, whether it's for enrichment or medicating animals. His favorite animals are the American Bison and the Monarch butterfly because of the cultural importance they have with the communities surrounding them. He dreams of seeing not only a huge bison herd migration but would also love to witness the Monarch's migration at the Monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico. Jose’s advice to aspiring zookeepers, especially to those who weren't given the opportunities to learn about this field or those who felt left behind is to keep pushing. The hardest part is getting your foot in the door even getting a non animal related job is a good start; create relationships with those who can help and support you get into the field. Educate yourself on the animals in the organization and apply, apply, apply for any and every opening.