A Zookeeper looks after the welfare of a wide range of exotic animals and fish living in captivity.

A zookeeper takes care of animals in a zoo or wildlife park. They are often assigned to a particular species or group of animals.

Modern zoo keeping entails a heavy focus on animal conservation – therefore zookeepers often also lead educational programmes to inform the public about wild animals and encourage conversation. They may work on captive breeding programmes to help boost the numbers of rare and endangered species.

Work activities

  • Cleaning out pens and living environments.
  • Monitoring the animals’ health and behaviour on a daily basis and notifying the vet when there are problems.
  • Adapting living environments so that the animals are kept in surroundings as similar to their natural habitats as possible.
  • Preparing captive breeding plans and reports.
  • Educating the public about animals and conservation.
  • Sexing and mating specimens.

Work conditions

Travel: zookeepers may occasionally need to transport animals to other zoos or sanctuaries.
Working hours: can be unsociable; zookeepers are often on call due to animals needing care around the clock.
Location: there are zoos in Dublin and Belfast, and a wildlife park in Fota, County Cork.

Entry requirements

A degree is not always necessary but a primary degree in zoology, biology, animal science veterinary science or agriculture can be beneficial. Requirements will vary according to the position; however experience of working with animals is generally a prerequisite.

Various institutions in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland offer Certificates and Diplomas in animal management and care.