Becoming a Zoo Keeper
Interested in becoming a Zoo Keeper? There are a few things you need to know first before applying for a role as a Zoo Keeper.
Currently there are 120 keepers employed to ensure world-class welfare and care is provided for a range of native Australian, exotic and endangered animals across the three properties.
Applying for a position as a Zoo Keeper with Zoos Victoria is slightly complex compared to other advertised roles. To be considered for a Zoo Keeping position, applicants must first be accepted onto the Preferred Keeper List.
Recruitment to this keeper list occurs a few times a year and is always advertised on Zoos Victoria's website. The selection process follows the regular recruitment process and also involves a workplace assessment. Once Zoo Keeping roles become available, candidates from the Preferred Keeper List are eligible to apply.
Short-term contracts are offered to the Preferred Keeper List as the roles become available and can range from a few weeks to 12 months, either in a part-time of full-time capacity. From time-to-time there is also a small number of volunteering opportunities available for candidates on this list.
There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of selection onto the Preferred Keeper List:
We’d recommend work experience and either paid or volunteer experience working with animals (farm animals, domestic animals, or wildlife). We look for applicants with more than three months experience in the above areas, demonstrating your commitment to a career in animal husbandry.
Unfortunately Volunteer animal husbandry experience at Zoos Victoria is only offered to candidates already on the Preferred Keeper List but there are plenty of organisations that need volunteers to continue their vital work caring for animals. Look for opportunities at your local veterinary surgery, RSPCA, animal welfare organisation, dog training company, wildlife rescue agencies or local kennels and catteries.
Maintain physical fitness
Zoo Keeping is physically demanding and applicants need to demonstrate how they maintain their physical fitness. Zoo Keepers generally work eight-hour days and the bulk of the work involved is outside during all weather conditions. The physical tasks usually include lots of walking (up to 10km a day), raking enclosures, shovelling, wheelbarrows and repetitive lifting.
Applicants who are invited to the Keeper Pool Assessment Centre will be required to undertake a Fitness Activity. This activity will measure applicant’s fitness levels across a number of exercises:
- The Beep Test – This test involves continuous running between two lines 20 metres apart in time to recorded beeps. The assessment can last up to 10 minutes.
- Push-ups – This test involves participants completing as many push-ups as they can in the allotted 60 second time frame. Participants must reach a 90-degree angle at the bottom of their push-up.
- The Plank – The plank test is a simple fitness test of core muscle strength. The aim of this test is to hold an elevated position for as long as possible.
- Grip Strength - The purpose of this test is to measure the maximum strength of the hand and forearm muscles.
- Lower Back Strength - This test measures back strength, which is important in core stability and for preventing lower back pain.
Ensure your qualifications are up to date
Although a qualification is not required to become an entry level Zoo Keeper, qualifications are looked upon favourably due to the high number of applications we receive. The types of suitable qualifications are:
- Certificate III in Captive Animals - Taronga Training Institute currently delivers this course at Melbourne Zoo.
- Certificates or Diploma in Animal Studies/Care
- Bachelor degrees in Science, Zoology, Biology, Veterinary Nursing or other animal-related disciplines.
Please note: Zoos Victoria have preferred tertiary institutions in which we support our staff to enrol in the ACM30310 Certificate III in Captive Animals. These institutes are Box Hill Institute and Taronga Training Institute.