From the tiniest mosquito, to the tallest of London and Whipsnade Zoos' giraffes, we have passionate keepers giving each and every one of our 20,000+ animals the most dedicated care possible, day-in, day-out.
Becoming a zookeeper has probably been everyone's dream at one time or another. And ZSL's historic Zoos are homes to one of the most diverse living collections of animals in the world. Having proudly penned the term 'Aquarium' from within London Zoos' near 200-year old gates, our keepers work around the clock to support many Critically-endangered species in a vast number of varying habitats - both on-show to visitors and many behind the scenes.
Our Zookeepers' passion for their job and their animals, is unmeasurable. By joining our friendly team, you are entering a community of caring and fascinating individuals.
What do zookeepers do?
Our keepers take on many responsibilities and won’t just be hands-on working with the animals all the time. We have several different animal teams working with many different species, but will often concentrate on specific groups such as birds, reptiles or mammals.
Our keepers’ day-to-day workload is full of endless possibilities ranging from answering questions from the public, designing enclosures, preparing food and enrichment for the animals and cleaning out the enclosures. We have an evidenced-based approach to our work, meaning detailed records and collaboration with other Zoos' experts sometimes calls for some office-based admin. The role can be very physically demanding and can require being outside in all seasons. Our animals need our care all year round, so weekend and holiday working does come as standard. But you won't find a more rewarding role, we can promise you that.
How do I become a zookeeper?
It can be a very competitive role and probably doesn't come as a surprise that for our apprentice keeper positions we can get hundreds of applications. When you're applying for a Zookeeper job, it’s really important to try and get your application to stand out. We like to see candidates who have enthusiasm for the role and have taken steps to reflect this in their CV.
For our entry level zookeeper roles we wouldn’t expect lots of experience but would encourage potential candidates to get some experience working with animals like volunteering at city farms, pet shops or animal shelters.
We’ll also look for candidates with other transferable skills such as being comfortable speaking to the public and good customer service skills or creative construction or woodwork skills.
What qualifications do I need to become a zookeeper?
For entry level keeper jobs, zoos typically look for a minimum of 5 GCSEs and 1 A Level, or a Level 3/BTEC in Animal Science, Animal Management or similar. Some of our roles may ask for higher than this, such as a Foundation Degree, however in many cases relevant equivalent experience may be sufficient.
Many zoos will now train you on the job, putting early career keepers through an Apprenticeship or Diploma in Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA).