Fancy a walk on the wild side? A course in zoology will definitely set you on your way! If you have an interest in animals of the less domestic variety, a career in zoology will see your day-to-day encounters vary from lions to zebras to penguins, plus many more.
Is it for me?
If wildlife fascinates you and the thought of getting up close and personal with potentially deadly animals does not faze you then it is likely that zoology is indeed for you. You should have a natural way with animals, be confident when around them and handling them and be willing to get your hands dirty with some less pleasant tasks that may be required of you. Physically, the fitter you are the better as this will go in your favour since jobs within this domain will more than often be outdoors and involve a lot of moving around. Most zoology courses require a minimum A Level or equivalent in biology, an aptitude for science, particularly chemistry and biology will work in your favour too, however some courses have no entry requirements in order to enrol. A natural ability for problem solving, research skills, team work and IT will also be useful.
What will I learn?
Zoology courses cover a variety of subject areas, from animal biology and habitats to behaviours and lifestyles. You will learn about the nutrition of a spectrum of ‘zoo’ animals, how to handle them and essentially anything else that will help you to interact and care for zoo animals on a daily basis.
With a zoology qualification you are likely to find employment within a zoo, safari or wildlife park or aquariums. You could even work within research at universities or government research institutions, or charities, local authorities or environmental protection agencies. Within the private sector you could be employed within agriculture, fisheries, biotechnology, chemicals or the pharmaceuticals sector. Alternatively you could use your experience as a zoologist to move into other jobs such as management, marketing, sales or scientific journalism.
Levels of employment in a zoo or safari park range from assistant zookeeper all the way through to senior zookeepers with the levels of responsibility and the salary rising accordingly. If you wish to embrace the traveller within you, your skills will be transferable to zoos and institutions abroad and you could even take part in zookeeper exchange programs which are temporary placements in different countries to give you a taste of new cultures and working environments on a less permanent basis.
Zoologists starting salaries can be between £21,000 and £25,000. Those in research posts can earn between £25,000 and £30,000 a year. Senior higher education research/teaching staff can earn up to £45,000. Salaries for those working in private industry and other organisations vary considerably.
Fun animal facts
- The pink colour of flamingos comes from the food they eat.
- Anteaters can eat up to 30,000 insects in one day.
- Chimpanzees are one of the few animals that use tools.
- The giraffe has the same number of vertebrae in their neck as a human – seven!
- Giraffe's give birth standing up – that is six feet that the baby has to drop.
- The orangutan has the strength of eight men.
- Kangaroos are the best jumpers of all mammals and can jump over 30 feet in one hop and six feet high, with a speed up to 40 mph.
- The anaconda is the largest snake in the world.
- No two zebras look alike, each one has a different stripe pattern.
- The ostrich can reach speeds up to 43 mph.
- Swans are known to have a triumph ceremony. Such ceremonies are when a male attacks a rival suitor, then returns to his potential mate to perform an elaborate ceremony while posturing and calling.
- Anteaters are able to detect insects with their powerful sense of smell, 40 times that of man.
- Giant Anteaters do not have teeth; instead, they have tongues that can reach as much as two feet in length.
By Telsha Arora