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Becoming a Zoo keeper: FAQs
Zoos Victoria has 120 keepers who care for the native Australian animals, exotic animals and endangered species at Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo.
How do I become a Zoo keeper with Zoos Victoria?
There are limited zoo keeping positions available within Victoria which means there is a great deal of competition for vacancies when they arise.
To be considered for appointment, you must successfully apply to Zoos Victoria’s preferred keeper list. Zoos Victoria invites applications for the preferred keeper list once a year.
We currently have a number of candidates on the preferred keeper list who are being considered for future zoo keeping roles from our recruitment process in 2012.
We do not foresee another intake of keepers until early to mid 2013, please regularly check our website for further details.
What is the preferred keeper list?
This list consists of 30 to 40 candidates for zoo keeping roles at Zoos Victoria. All our pre-trade keeping positions are advertised exclusively to this list. (Note: Pre-trade keepers are those who have under three years experience as a Zoo keeper.)
Short-term contracts are also offered to this list and can range from a few weeks to 12 months, either in a part-time or full-time capacity.
Only candidates in the list are eligible for hands-on keeper volunteer opportunities across Zoos Victoria.
How do I become a candidate for the preferred keeper list?
You must be successfully shortlisted to the preferred keeper list to be considered for a zoo keeping role at Zoos Victoria.
To become a successful candidate for the preferred keeper list, we invite shortlisted candidates to spend a day in the workplace being assessed for suitability through our assessment centre.
Applications cannot be lodged in advance of the invitation to apply for the preferred keeper list. Interested applicants should visit our website regularly to view the vacancies once they arise.
What do I need to do to be considered for a zoo keeping role and the preferred keeping list?
Candidates must demonstrate a passion for animal care. Having a tertiary qualification would also be an advantage. We also look favourably upon work experience either paid or voluntary.
How do I get animal husbandry experience?
There are several wildlife parks and sanctuaries around Victoria and Australia that would be an excellent way of gaining animal husbandry experience, usually through volunteering. For a list of volunteer organisations, please visit our volunteer section.
Zoos Victoria offers a small number of volunteering opportunities to candidates on the preferred keeper list. Successful candidates are those whose job prospects would be enhanced by practical animal husbandry experience.
The successful volunteers generally work an eight-hour day, up to a maximum of 160 hours; or 20 full days under the supervision of a senior Zoo keeper. Work is spread over several weeks and can be completed on weekdays or weekends.
What qualifications do I need?
We look for qualifications in zoology, animal biology, animal husbandry, veterinary nursing or other animal-related disciplines and/or husbandry experience with farm animals, domestic animals, or wildlife.
For information and contact details for relevant courses to the zoo industry, please refer to the up-to-date VTAC guide or equivalent in your state or territory for courses being offered at the various universities and TAFE colleges throughout Australia.
Please contact the relevant training provider for further information or a course outline.
How are zoo keeping jobs offered?
If you have been successfully selected from our assessment centre, your name is added to a list of preferred zoo keeping candidates. Each time a vacancy arises, you will be contacted and considered for appointment.
If you are on our preferred zoo keeping candidates list, you will be eligible to become a volunteer within our Life Sciences department while waiting for a job opportunity to arise.
Entry to zoo keeping is always by appointment to a fixed-term vacancy. These vacancies arise from time to time, usually when the incumbent is on leave or absent from the workplace for a period ranging from one month to twelve months.
While Zoos Victoria attempts to provide continuous employment to those placed on fixed-term appointments, no guarantee of employment beyond the fixed term can be given.
I’ve secured a zoo keeping job at Zoos Victoria. What happens next?
Once you secure a highly sought-after animal keeping role at Zoos Victoria, the career path will be quite structured. The career path is based on a classification system, with each level set according to specific skill-sets gained through on-the-job training, tertiary studies and animal keeping experience.
There are three bands in the classification structure:
- Band 1 covers keepers in training or pre-trade qualified
- Band 2 covers trade qualified and experienced keepers
- Band 3 covers supervisors and experienced keepers who have specialised in particular aspects of zoo keeping