What does a zookeeper do?
Zoo keeping isn’t just about being close to wild animals and feeding lions with fresh chunks of meat daily. Although it does involve the preparation of food for the animals, many other equally important tasks will require your attention. Zookeeper’s responsibilities include the following:
Care and maintenance of animal spaces
If you are passionate about the welfare of animals, you will always want them to stay in a safe, comfortable and clean environment. That means you would be responsible for the cleanliness of their spaces, right from where they sleep to where they play or rest during the day. This would include disinfecting their enclosures to ensure the animals are not exposed to harmful pests and germs. A safe and comfortable environment also includes providing suitable activities and forms of enrichment.
Creating and implementing zoo enclosure enrichment activities
Zookeepers create and implement enrichment activities to keep animals mentally and physically stimulated. These activities mimic natural behaviors and help to engage animals and thereby reducing boredom and destructive behaviours.
Animal nutrition and feeding regimes
Zookeepers are responsible for preparing and providing appropriate diets for the animals in their care. They must ensure that each animal receives the proper nutrition and dietary requirements. This is frequently done under the advice and recommendations of veterinarians.
Observation and record keeping for animals
A zookeeper needs to keep detailed records about each animal in their care. The details include names and ages of the animals, nutritional diaries, any treatments the sick animals are undergoing, and any other important information necessary for their well-being, for example, changes in their behaviour or demeanour. Detailed accurate record keeping plays a critical role in assessing the progress and welfare of the animals under your care and in deciding if any further measures or improvements are necessary.
Caring for injured and ill animals
Animals require medical attention from time to time, just like humans do. As a zookeeper, one of your responsibilities would be working with animal health care professionals such as veterinarians and veterinary nurses to ensure sick animals receive the care and attention they need to recuperate.
Capturing and restraining animals
From time to time, you may need to help other zoo personnel capture and restrain animals for animal health care checkups, maintain enclosures, or relocate an animal. In some zoos, you may even be required to capture and restrain animals in the wild, including those threatened by extinction through natural attrition or human activity and those that require treatment and rehabilitation.
Zoo visitors and education programs
Many zoos rely on human visitors to fund their programs. These programs also allow zoos to educate the community about animal conservation and their environments. As a result, zookeepers are often required to maintain facilities to accommodate visitors. They may also be required to conduct tours, be involved in zoo experiences and provide helpful information about the zoo and the animals.