ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Zoos, How to Get Big Cat Jobs, Internships and Education

Updated on December 5, 2012

What to do when you want to work with the Big Cats at the Zoo

Specialize in a Career With Big Cats

You have decided that you want an education in working specifically with big cats. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, lynx, bobcats and more. Each have their own unique style and cravings among the wild. For zoo keepers who manage big cats in captivity, this specialized career demands that these elite few have done some pretty heavy work to achieve such a prestigious job as the big cat zoo keeper. This field has many dangers as well as many more rewards. Realistically, to acquire a job working with the big feline breeds, you will need to begin your journey by getting formal education topped off with real hands-on zoo or animal sanctuary experience. So, buckle into your school desk, because your future is going to be filled with getting a degree in zoology, animal science, biology or wildlife biology just to get you out of the starting gate!

Captive Bobcat

Inside an isolation enclosure with a "female Bobcat" who was not expecting a guest!
Inside an isolation enclosure with a "female Bobcat" who was not expecting a guest! | Source

Depending on the college you attend and what it offers—zoology, animal science, biology—will determine which major you will study. As you work toward your formal big cat zoo related degree, you are going to need to take on some extra activities. First, you are going to want to start looking for internships at zoos. Because your desire is to work with big cats at the zoo, you are looking specifically for internships in carnivore departments. Working with the zoos big cat populations is a really difficult specialty to break into, so you must get all of the practical experience working with zoos and sanctuaries you can. These internships are the most probable way to gain this luxury experience. Keep in mind that the majority of internships are NOT-For-Pay ventures, but the hands on experience will prove to be priceless in the long run. Much of the best stories and educational input offered by animal science, zoology and biology students have been derived regularly from their internship programs. Some things you just can't learn from even a great text-book.

Where to Locate Internships with Carnivores for Zoo Education

To start with, and most probably the best place to look for an internship with carnivore is with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). They are looking to fill many positions and even a few for a Carnivore Zookeeper. As you will see, the required education and experience is rather extensive when compared to the pay being offered. Be mindful that most of these are actual job listing, not internships. However, you will be looking in the right place for carnivore internships when paging through the job listings on the AZA website. They have current listings for several internships at zoos throughout the country.

GO TO THE AZA WEBSITE TO VIEW CURRENT INTERNSHIPS AND JOB OPENINGS.

Captive TIGER

Male Bengal Tiger enjoying a salt-lick in captivity.
Male Bengal Tiger enjoying a salt-lick in captivity. | Source

Zoo Internships and Zoo Jobs

Within the body of most of the listings for Zoo positions and internships, you find requirements regarding your overall health and well being. Some position reject those who have allergic reactions to venom and bites. This is not a discrimination issue, but rather a safety issue. Some of the zoo jobs demand being able to lift 50Lbs along with having other physical prowess.

While searching through the zoo employment and internship listings on the AZA website, you will read things pertaining to husbandry skills, training skills and enrichment demonstrations. These indicate that you will be teaching the things you know in a public forum. You will also find a pay scale for zoo jobs and benefit packages. Few, if any internships offer such benefits.

Educational requirements are defined within the listings. A Baccalaureate Degree in biology, science, or animal related behaviour will pop-up in almost every zoo job requirement listing. You may be surprised to find that some of the most demanding positions start at around the $30K range in annual salary—but do offer good benefit packages.

VIDEO OF BIG CATS AND PUMPKINS--WHO KNEW?

A Few of the Best Big Cat Zoo & Internship Education

International Exotic Animal Sanctuary

First sanctuary to be granted certification by the AZA. They offer Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall sessions for internships. You can find dates and full information on their site.

Big Cat Rescue

The Big Cat Rescue program offers you volunteer opportunities and a few internships. The internship program is a very good start for any big cat zoo keeper to-be!

I have provided a direct link to each of the internship pages for either of these outstanding programs. Both have high marks in the zoological world and you will find a great amount of information to help guide you toward a career in captive Big Cat zoo keeping.

"EARNING YOUR PLACE AMONG THE BIG FELINE WILD THINGS IS A WORTHY CHALLENGE!"


Captive Leopard

A "female Leopard" in rehab isolation after a minor injury.
A "female Leopard" in rehab isolation after a minor injury. | Source

A Practical Look at Zoos and Big Cats

Knowing that a big cat is at the very top of the food chain brings with it some unusual causes for concern. Zoos maintain these large felines for conservation, education and entertainment purposes. In captivity, these animals can turn to unnatural habits and behavior due to the lack of space, illness, or new surroundings. Only with a compilation of course study, research and hands-on experience is positive captivity achieved for big cats.

***These components will also make for a safer environment for the big cat zoo keeper.***

In comparing Big Cats with other dangerous zoo attractions, venomous creatures come to mind. When dealing with and keeping venomous creatures, zoo keeper's maintain a healthy fear and awareness for the striking possibility of being bit and succumbing to a deadly snake bite. Recent advancements in medical venom-know-how has been increased with the help of venom stocks and specialized venom-trained doctors who manage the acquisition of venom antidote stores. (Florida's VENOM ONE holds the largest and best known collection of common and obscure venom antidote's in the world.)

What Do You Think About Working With Big Cats?

Do you desire to work with Big Cats?

See results

However, when it comes to the viable survival of a big cat attack, not even specialized medical training can make up for the damage caused by these powerful killing machines. This is the biggest reason for the many requirements and demands placed on the student who is working toward a zoo career in this specialized carnivorous field. Big cats are among the most fascinating and beautiful zoo creature's we maintain in captivity. They are also at the top of the list of those creatures that require the most direct experience and training to handle. These training demands make for a reliable and safe days work in the life of a big cat zoo keeper's career.

JOIN THE HUBPAGES COMMUNITY

Have a secret desire to write? Want to earn money while working from Home? Join HubPages Now and begin sharing your written works on the best self-publishing site around! Our friendly community is waiting to meet you!

Comments for Zoos - Careers with big cats

Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    spond741 5 years ago

    So happy to support your organization.http://communispond.com/modules/solutions/eps.aspx

  • profile image

    alexis 5 years ago

    thanks you so much! helped a lot! ive always wanted to work with animals, paticularly with big cats. but i was wondering where would be a good place to go to college where i could receive a good education in zoology and animal science?

  • Sinea Pies profile image

    Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

    Love big cats. When I go to the zoo, they are my favorites. In college, I had the most gorgeous photo poster of two tigers on my wall, I love it. Interestingly, I am not attracted to domesticated house cats. When I look at the movement of big cats, they remind me of dogs, not cats. Strange, huh? This hub is so good. Voted up and interesting.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

    What a fantastic job that would be! I love all cats, big and small. This was great reading, thanks! and voted up! cheers nell

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

    masego~ I do too. Nothing so majestic and beautiful has such power up close as do big cats.

    Cheers~

  • profile image

    masego 6 years ago

    just love spending time looking at the big cats

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

    Melissa~ I can see your point. But, the premise is that to gain the necessary skills to manage big cats (carnivores) you usually need to have direct-contact handler experience. An internship with big cats is just about the only way to achieve such lofty requirements. And what better place to gain the best know-how than through a Big Cat Rescue internship. Thanks for offering your thoughts on the issue, I appreciate your input.

    Cheers~

  • Melissa A Smith profile image

    Melissa A Smith 6 years ago from New York

    Interesting that Big Cat Rescue is a popular choice for aspiring zoo keepers, as their philosophy is overtly anti-zoo.

  • profile image

    Rachel 7 years ago

    I'm so happy I found this site! Working with big cats is something I've wanted to do since I was a child. This site helped me out on where I need to get things started! Can't wait to begin... :)

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

    Livelonger~ Thank you very much for the comments. I am always glad to see you stopped by. I had fun snapping the shots of the big cats, so I appreciate that you enjoyed the images!

    K9

  • livelonger profile image

    Jason Menayan 7 years ago from San Francisco

    Informative and with great pictures - yet another great Hub, K9!

  • K9keystrokes profile image
    Author

    India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

    Pam~ So happy you made it by today. I am glad that people want to study this area as well. Many blessing to you this Christmas season! Thank you for the comments.

    K9

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    I enjoy going to the zoo and I love to look at the big cats but I never would want that as a career. I am a chicken around animals that are larger than I and have teeth. I enjoyed your hub and it is good some people want this as a career. Merry Christmas to you.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)