Carolina Tiger Rescue, formerly the Carnivore Preservation Trust, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.
So you want to be a Keeper?
The animal care field is competitive, but you can take steps to pursue becoming an animal keeper. Be aware that there are other careers at zoos, aquariums and other animal-care facilities that are equally important such as IT support, office management, volunteer coordination, and grounds-keeping. Other animal-related careers include wildlife biologist, professor, veterinarian, veterinarian technician, researcher, animal control officer, park ranger, and more.
We have listed some suggestions on how to pursue an animal keeper position.
In elementary school
- Take field trips to Carolina Tiger, or to your local zoo, aquarium, or sanctuary.
- Spend time outdoors and observe wildlife.
- Join our Kid’s Enrichment Dayand learn why enrichment is important for captive animals.
- Read books and watch TV programs about wildlife, biology, and conservation.
- Ask your parents for animal-related magazine such as National Geographic Kids, Ranger Rick, or Your Big Backyard.
In middle/high school
- Join clubs or organizations that are biology-related or that spend time outdoors.
- Volunteer or work in an animal environment (veterinary hospital, local animal shelter, horse stable, livestock barn, local zoo or aquarium).
- Volunteer at Carolina Tiger.
- Sign up for one of our Special Experiences.
- Take classes that may help you in an animal related career.
- Plan to attend a college that has a biology or animal-related field of study.
- Pursue an animal-related degree (i.e., Zoology, Biology, Animal Science, Wildlife Science, Environmental Studies).
- Take animal-related courses (i.e., physiology, animal behavior, ecology, zoology, population dynamics, animal husbandry, etc).
- Volunteer and participate in internships. Get experience with a variety of species to discover your area of interest (fish, amphibians or reptiles, birds, mammals).
As a college graduate
- Contact HR of any animal facilities in your area for possible job openings.
- If you can’t get a job immediately in your desired field, consider volunteering to gain experience.
- If you are interested in furthering your education, consider graduate school for a Master’s degree (however, most facilities only require a Bachelor’s degree).
At Carolina Tiger Rescue
To apply for a Keeper position at Carolina Tiger, fax or email a cover letter and resume to the attention of the Curator. Resumes are kept on file for a year. Carolina Tiger will frequently announce the availability of a position internally to our adoptive parents, volunteers, and members before listing an available position on our website. When a Keeper position is available, and we have been unable to fill it throgh an internal search, it is listed on our Employment page.
- Do it because you love the job. Animal Keepers are generally paid a minimum wage.
- Be physically fit and have a good attitude. You will be working outdoors and in all weather conditions.
- Contrary to what many people think, keepers spend a lot of time interacting with the public. If you want to work with animals to avoid working with people, don’t be deceived. Animal keepers give educational presentations to the public, guide tours, and interact with people daily.
- Be prepared to work flexible hours and days, this is not 9-5. You have to work holidays and weekends, animals need care every day.
- Most animal facilities require a college degree.
- Do not fall victim “animal training schools” that offer a graduation certificate for working a few days with animals. These facilities will take your money and not offer any practical skills in return. Just because you have interacted with a few animals does not mean you have gained proper experience, and any reputable animal facility knows it.
- The best way to know if you will enjoy being a keeper is to experience by volunteering or interning at various zoos, aquariums, rehabilitation centers, or sanctuaries.
- There are many people that want to become animal keepers but not as many jobs, and reputable experience can help you stand out from the crowd.