Wildlife enthusiasts looking to work with and for the benefit of exotic animals have a variety of career trajectories to choose from. Occupations that involve direct interaction with wild animals in captivity or in their native habitats generally-- but not aways--require an extensive scientific background.
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Zoo keepers care for animals in captivity at zoos and aquariums. Their day-to-day duties include feeding the animals under their care and cleaning and maintaining their enclosures. Zoo keepers must be well-attuned to the behaviour of the animals they care for to be able to report even the slightest changes to veterinarians. They often give presentations and answer visitors' questions.
A bachelor's degree in an animal-related field such as zoology is the basic requirement for a career as a zoo keeper. Other requirements vary depending on the organisation. The average annual salary of a zoo keeper in May 2008 was £14,007--the latest figure available for this profession from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Veterinarians prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and conditions in animals. This may involve administering vaccines and medication, performing surgery, dressing wounds and deciding when to euthanize animals. While most veterinarians work with domestic animals, a small number care for wild animals in zoos and aquariums. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most exotic animal veterinarians are not employed by animal parks, but are hired as independent contractors.
A four-year doctorate of veterinary medicine (D.V.M.) and a state license are required to practice veterinary medicine in the United States. Exotic animal veterinarians must also complete a three- to four-year residency in their speciality.
Conservation biologists study wild animals and their habitats to prevent species from becoming extinct. This involves identifying the animals' food sources and monitoring their behaviour. They subsequently make and implement recommendations aimed at preserving the animals and the natural resources necessary for their survival. Conservation biologists usually spend a great deal of time in the field gathering data and collecting samples.
The average annual salary of a conservation biologist who meets only the minimum requirement for the job--a college degree in the biology sciences or a related field--is £24,700, according to Aboriginal EnviroCareers. Conservation biologists with master's degrees make an average of £33,800 a year.
Wildlife photographers take photos of animals in their natural environments, which often requires a great deal of travel in remote areas. Wildlife photographers are employed by magazines, publishing companies and government agencies, and may also work on a freelance basis. A bachelor's degree in photojournalism is useful for a career as a wildlife photographer. Income depends on the photographer's experience and employer.
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