Age to Work at the Zoo - How old do you have to be?

What is the required age to work at a zoo? How old must you be to get a job as a zookeeper, vet technician, curator, grounds keeper, or just volunteer?

If you are an animal lover then working with those special creatures would probably be your dream job. And where else could yu find the greatest number and variety of creatures to work with than at a wildlife park.
work at a zoo
I have personally called around to many zoos including those located in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Orlando, Houston, Phoenix, San Diego, and Columbus. They all responded that you have to be at least 18 years old to work at a zoo.

This may be a little disappointing if you are still in high school and do not meet the age requirement. But don't worry, there are still tons of jobs for teens jobs for teenagers out there.

You may want to look in to visiting or calling your local zoo in order to find out if you could volunteer. Volunteering is a good way to get experience working at a job. You usually would not get a weekly or bi-weekly pay check but you may be given a small stipend for your contribution and hard work. Plus, you get to interact with the animals depending upon your role.


Volunteer Jobs at the Zoo

When I was 15 years old, I got a volunteer job where I was able to "work at a zoo" in my home town. It was through the Explorer's program and took place every Saturday morning.

I spent 2 weeks in each part of the zoo; for example, 2 weeks working as a junior keeper with the elephants under the direct supervision of the elephant zookeeper. Then I would move on to another section of the zoo. Once I had spent 2 weeks in each section of the zoo, I was allowed to choose one section and focus on it. I was especially fond of the Bears and the Big Cats. I chose the Big Cats and spent the rest of the year in that section. The zoo itself was undergoing a makeover, transitioning into more natural exhibits. The Big Cats went through this and I was able to be on the front line of this new environment for the animals.

Specifically, I learned about the life cycles of the various animals at the zoo, mostly mammals. The animal husbandry that I learned also was very hands on, learning how to clean zoo-style, with shovels and rakes and big hoses. I learned dietary requirements for the different species as well, and prepared meals and fed the animals--safely.

Overall, I learned animal husbandry for all of the species in residence at the zoo, from goats and rabbits and ferrets in the Children's Zoo to elephants, monkeys, chimps, big cats, bears, giraffes, etc. It was an excellent experience both in terms of the animal care and in learning, early on in life, how to work as a team member with the other volunteers and zookeepers. It taught me responsibility to a job, to show up on time, even very early in the morning, and to work steadily for several hours with a good attitude and focus.

My career as an adult is in animal care and I credit my work at a zoo when I was a teenager for setting the stage for my adult life's work. It has been invaluable to me and has played a definite and positive role in getting jobs in veterinary clinics.

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