Wednesday, 24th April 2019


Head zoo keepers are highly experienced in the care and management of zoo animals. Like general zoo keepers, head zoo keepers can work on any type of animal enclosure, including in general zoos, wildlife parks, animal centres and aquariums. On top of the usual tasks of animal care and management, head zoo keepers must ensure the smooth running of the enclosure and oversee the staff.

Head zoo keepers may work with a variety of animals, or may be in charge of one section of animals within the enclosure. However, head zoo keepers will need to manage the entire company, ensuring that the staff are supervised, the animals are healthy and happy, and that people who come to visit the zoo or aquarium have an enjoyable experience.

All senior zoo keepers will have different responsibilities, and many choose to become highly specialised in one particular type of animal.

General responsibilities could include:

  • Organising and motivating a team of staff
  • Planning and implementing an effective animal management programme
  • Daily animal care, such as feeding, cleaning and health supervision
  • Running animal breeding programmes
  • Training animals for demonstrations
  • Maintaining the cleanliness and conditions of compounds and displays
  • Liaising with vets, clients, and maintenance staff
  • Hiring and training new staff
  • Checking the safety and security of the enclosure
  • Dealing with problems or complaints

Due to their level of responsibility, head zoo keepers can have varying working hours, which can be quite unsociable. Animals must have constant care, so head zoo keepers will work on a rota to cover all periods including weekends and bank holidays. Head zoo keepers may also be on an on-call rota, so must be comfortable working with this sort of commitment.

Zoos’ and aquariums’ primary intention is to educate people about wildlife and animals, and also to encourage environmental awareness and conservation. Head zoo keepers must be committed to providing the animals with a comfortable and healthy lifestyle, as well educating the visitors about wildlife and the environment.