How To Become A Zookeeper Assistant and Work at a Zoo with Animals
The zookeeper assistant requirements covered in our curriculum include 10 stages covering a wide variety of topics. The zookeeper school materials cover zoo biology, animal husbandry, animal behavior, animal housing, recordkeeping, safety and more. The answer to the question “how do you work at a zoo with animals?” offers several career possibilities. Gaining your education from our zookeeper assistant school prepares you to work in a variety of settings.
Zookeeper Assistant School Curriculum
Stage 1 – INTRODUCTION TO ZOOS AND ZOOKEEPING – 14 Days
In this first stage, students will learn about zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, and accreditation. This stage also covers zoo regulations, zookeeper responsibilities and what working at a zoo is like. Students will be able to answer the question: what does a zookeeper assistant do?
Stage 2 – EXOTIC ANIMAL HOUSING AND EXHIBITS – 14 Days
This stage is all about housing animals at the zoo. It covers how to build an animal exhibit including horticulture, furnishings, substrate, guest and animal safety, pest control and enclosure maintenance. The stage also discusses special types of animal enclosures, for example enclosures for aquatic animals or mixed species exhibits.
Stage 3 – ANIMAL HEALTH – 21 Days
This stage is full of important information regarding zoo biology. Zookeepers, Zookeeper Assistants and other zoo personnel need to be able to identify when an animal may be stressed or getting sick. Students will learn warning signs of illness or stress, and all about routine medical care and treatments for exotic animals in the zoo. Preventative medicine such as vaccines, exams, parasite control and new animal quarantine is explored. This stage also covers animal nutrition and diet preparation, animal restraint and capture.
Stage 4 – ZOO CONSERVATION AND BREEDING PROGRAMS – 42 Days
This stage covers one of the favorite topics among Zookeepers and Zookeeper Assistants. In this stage, you will learn how zoo employees and volunteers make a difference in the world of animal conservation. This stage covers Species Survival Plans, animal reproduction, Studbooks and population management, animal re-introduction programs and research. You will understand how zoos and wildlife parks are helping conservation and research efforts for endangered and at-risk animals.
Stage 5 – EXOTIC ANIMAL BEHAVIOR, ENRICHMENT AND TRAINING – 35 Days
You will learn the basics of training philosophy including classical and operant conditioning, as well as, how to solve behavior problems. This stage also covers the natural behaviors of zoo animals along with different types of enrichment such as food-based, physical, sensory and social, for a myriad of different species.
Stage 6 – DAILY ZOOKEEPING ROUTINES AND HUSBANDRY – 35 Days
This stage reviews the different ways zoos and wildlife sanctuaries keep track of their animal inhabitants. Some key subjects covered are recordkeeping, including physical identifications and nomenclature. You will also learn species specific husbandry for a variety of animals including, birds, carnivores, hoofstock, elephants, marine mammals, and primates. Learning how to correctly write an animal care daily report will also be taught.
Stage 7 – ZOOKEEPING SAFETY – 42 Days
It is important that those working at a zoo and around exotic animals are very familiar with safety protocol. Subjects in this stage include legal requirements, work hazards, zoonotic disease prevention, zookeeper assistant safety, guest safety, animal safety, emergency response and evacuation plans for both guests and animals.
Stage 8 – ZOO VISITOR EDUCATION AND RELATIONS – 14 Days
Who doesn’t love baby animals? Who doesn’t want to learn fun facts about zoo inhabitants? This stage covers the roles of the volunteers or docents. You will learn how to educate different audiences that visit the zoo, including children and adults. Emotional, intellectual, and behavioral education techniques, as well as community outreach is also covered.
Stage 9 – BUILDING YOUR ZOOKEEPER ASSISTANT CAREER – 14 Days
Learn about the next steps in your zookeeping assistant education and how to find work at a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. This stage is full of tips on how to create a resume and cover letter, interviewing, and how to gain experience working in a zoo with exotic animals. We also list certifications and associations to join along with different types of continuing education for those who want to further or build upon their zookeeping education.
Stage 10 – FINAL EXAM & GRADUATION – 14 Days
This stage consists of a final exam designed to test your overall knowledge. Upon successful completion, you will become an ABC Certified Zookeeper Assistant (ABCZA). After graduation, you will be able to register for your free ABC Alumni account.
Benefits of ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant School
By enrolling in ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant Program, you can start your zookeeping education while still working at your current job. Since our program is available online, your materials and exams can be accessed anywhere and anytime. While our program still has required exam due dates and an overall completion date, the course is designed to work around your schedule. Completion time for ABC’s Zookeeper Assistant Program is approximately 8 months.
Although the Zookeeper Assistant Program is online, you are not alone. Students are assigned an ABC Program Manager upon enrollment. Your Program Manager will be available to you when you need assistance, have questions, or even just need feedback on your progress! They are also responsible for grading your exams and helping throughout your zookeeping assistant education at Animal Behavior College. Have more questions? We’re here to help. Call 800-795-3294.
Short Term Programs
ABC offers continuing education courses to students and the public. These Short Term Programs are designed to expand upon your knowledge and provide you with more information and resources to help you grow in your desired career. Zookeeper Assistant Program students can sign up for Short Term Programs upon enrollment for a discounted rate and will gain access to these programs after your completion of Stage 9 in the curriculum. ABC offers the following Short Term Programs for our Zookeeper Assistant students:
- Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
- Pet Nutrition and Diet
- Pet Fostering
- Pet Massage
- Doggie Daycare
These programs will not only provide you with excellent part-time income opportunities, but also broaden your animal handling experience and knowledge as animal care takers. Those passionate about animal conservation may be excited to learn about pet fostering to help local animal shelters or rescues. Pet Nutrition and Diet would be a good choice for those interested in the science behind animal nutrition. Education in any of our Short Term Programs could be beneficial for those in the animal care industry.