The Career Clusters in a zoo

The Career Clusters in a zoo
In this Workplace Spotlight, we will go through what it’s like to work in a zoo and the roles you might find for each Career Cluster.

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Zoos have many purposes that revolve around conservation, education, and entertainment. One of their primary roles is to safeguard and protect certain animal species through breeding and preservation programs. They also offer visitors, especially children, a unique opportunity to connect with and learn about various animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts.

Zoos also often contribute to scientific research, aiding in the study of animal behaviour, health, and environmental interactions. Modern zoos increasingly emphasise ethical and humane care, offering environments that mimic animals’ natural habitats and meet their physical and psychological needs.

Every zoo is different, but they do have some things in common:

  1. Loving animals is great – but you’ll probably also need to go above and beyond that to provide the highest quality care.
  2. Expect to work on your feet – many of the roles in a zoo require a high amount of physical work.
  3. They’re found everywhere – from big cities to rural expanses, zoos are popular all around the world.

Preserve, educate, and conserve Earth’s biodiversity

Zoos contribute to society by fostering education, conservation, and empathy for animals.

Key Tasks

  • Feed and care for animals
  • Clean and maintain exhibits
  • Run guided tours and educational programs
  • Provide veterinary support and medical care
  • Ensure public safety and manage crowds
  • Research animal behaviour and health
  • Provide enrichment activities for animals
  • Fundraise and advocate for conservation

You can find zoos in the arts and recreation services industry

Zoos are generally found in the arts and recreation services industry. There are lots of different types of zoos, including traditional zoos, safari parks, and specialised sanctuaries.

You can expect regular hours and on-site work

Regular hours  |  Work on-site  |  Jobs in all areas  |  Strong job growth

The typical opening hours of a zoo can vary, but they generally range from around 9am to 5pm, although some zoos might have extended hours during weekends, holidays, or specific seasons. Some workers may need to come in and do work during the night when there are no visitors in the zoo.

The primary operations of zoos, such as animal care, exhibit maintenance, and visitor engagement, typically require on-site work. Animal care professionals, educators, maintenance staff, and other roles also need to be physically present at the zoo. While some administrative or research-related tasks might allow for remote work, on-site work is generally more common.

 Zoos can be found across rural, regional, and metropolitan areas.

The Career Clusters you’ll find in a zoo

People from all Clusters are needed for a zoo to run successfully, but Guardians and Makers are typically the most common Cluster. In many roles, you might find yourself performing tasks across multiple Clusters.


Makers take on the role of creating, building, and maintaining the physical structures, landscapes, enclosures, and interactive elements that contribute to the wellbeing of the animals and the overall visitor experience.

  • Landscapers
  • Maintenance Technicians
  • Cleaners
  • Horticulturalists

Linkers help to enhance the visitor experience at a zoo, providing visitors with any information they might need to know. They are also responsible for promoting a zoo’s events and services to the public, and providing information on their current operations and projects.

  • Guest Services
  • Marketing Managers
  • Public Relations Officers

Coordinators oversee schedules, logistics, and communication, while also managing the administrative and planning aspects that allow the zoo to function efficiently and effectively. They ensure that various departments, tasks, and resources work together to provide an enriching experience for visitors.

  • Development Directors
  • Program Coordinators
  • Events Managers
  • Curators

Informers conduct in-depth research into different animals to help inform husbandry practices, nutrition, veterinary care, habitat development, and environmental enrichment. They also share knowledge, insights, and captivating stories about the animals, conservation efforts, and the natural world with visitors.

  • Animal Researchers
  • Biologists
  • Education Outreach

Innovators help to develop new solutions, whether in animal care, visitor engagement, or sustainable practices. They create new and improved exhibits and implement advanced technologies to enhance the experience for both the animals and visitors.

  • Enclosure Designers
  • Landscape Architects
  • Experience Designers
  • Enrichment Specialists

Guardians play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety, wellbeing, and health of both the animals and visitors. They do this by monitoring animal behaviour, maintaining enclosures, and adhering to safety protocols, helping to maintain a secure and enriching environment for all.

  • Zookeepers
  • Veterinarians
  • Safety Officers
  • Conservationists

How do we expect working in a zoo to change in the future?

Working in a zoo is likely to undergo significant changes in the future, driven by advancements in technology, evolving societal values, and the increasing emphasis on conservation and sustainability.

The integration of advanced technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive exhibits could enhance visitor experiences and education. Zoo staff may need to adapt to new tools for animal monitoring, data analysis, and communication with visitors.

Zoos will likely play an even larger role in conservation efforts, including captive breeding and reintroduction programs for endangered species. Conservation biologists, geneticists, and field researchers may become more integral to zoo teams.

As societal attitudes toward animal welfare continue to evolve, zoos may place a stronger emphasis on creating more naturalistic and spacious habitats, and on providing enrichment activities that mimic animals’ natural behaviours.

Zoos are also increasingly serving as hubs for scientific research, contributing to our understanding of animal behaviour, genetics, and ecology. Research positions, such as behavioural ecologists and wildlife biotechnologists, may become more prominent.