Posts Tagged ‘career’

by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Career Day

April 21st, 2013

Most of the education work we animal keepers are asked to do happens on museum grounds in the form of programs, events and blog posts. Every once in a while something fun pops up and one of us gets to go out into the world to spread our knowledge to the sponge-like minds of eager children and adults alike.


Well, maybe that’s pushing things a bit. This event wasn’t as much about “spreading knowledge” and “eager children” as much as it was about a 4 hour, 200+ person career fair for 8th graders. Think of speed dating but with potential career paths rather than potential dates.


First things first, I needed to collect a bunch of things from around the office to bring with me that showcase what animal keepers do.


Next I asked my fellow keepers what tools or objects represent their jobs best.

My favorite responses: “fecal cups!!!” “keys” and “my clicker.”

The day of the fair arrived and I set up my table. This was all happening at Neal Middle School, a local magnet school that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math.


The kids came in groups of 2 -3 classes at a time. I was surprised and really happy to see how many of these students were dressed in suits and ties or conservative business attire and even more so by the number that, without any trepidation, approached me, shook my hand and introduced themselves.

These two boys stuck around for a while and asked so many great questions about the job that I asked for a photo for the blog!


I was one of ten careers being represented that morning. The others were the Boy Scouts of America, the Mayor’s Office, a pilot for US Airways, Habitat for Humanity, a Duke University pediatric social worker, the headmistress of a Montessori School, Durham Technical Community College, “Work Smart” a local IT outsourcing company, and the owner of a small business named, “The Art of Style.”

Overall, it was far more tiring than my typical Farmyard morning, but totally worth it. The kids were awesome, the teachers appreciative and the other careers present had some amazing stories to share. I’m very glad I got to spend a morning with them all!

Join the conversation:

  1. If a Zookeeper would have come to my Middle School it wouldn’t have taken me so long to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

    Posted by kimberly

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by , Keeper
I have been working at the museum since 2003, and I feel fortunate to have a job where I can start my day with amazing animals surrounding me. I enjoy camping, hiking and rock climbing in my spare time when the weather is nice.
I work Tuesday through Saturday and spend a lot of time behind the scenes, but you might find me at a public program or feeding the farmyard animals in the afternoon.

Taking the bad with the good

July 1st, 2008

Everyone is different when it comes to choosing a career that best fits their interests and desires. A good place to start when it comes to deciding if a job is right for you is to look at what the job really entails. If you are thinking about being an animal keeper, the first thing you should know is that your days would not consist of just playing with animals. In fact, if you would rather not clean, get dirty, do strenuous labor, be sweaty, work outside in extreme weather, work on your feet all day, or deal with things that most people think are “gross” then this job might not be for you.

Although most of the keepers here would agree that this is the coolest job they could ever have, there are still aspects that aren’t always pleasant or enjoyable. For Kristen, the worst thing is accidentally sending a spray of dirty backsplashed water in her face while cleaning the lemur house. The aspect that Jill dislikes the most is the extreme weather conditions that we have to work in. Sherry’s biggest peave is having to deal with problems or issues such as a sick animal, conflicts between co-workers, or a short turn around on a written project. I personally find that re-arranging the lemur perches is the worst, because every step you take they get snagged on something or you drop them or they hit you in the head or you trip on them!
With all of that said, if you still think that being an animal keeper is what you would like to do, here is some advice from the keepers here. Sherry and Katy both think that the most important thing to know about this job is that you must be a people person. As backward as that may sound, being able to communicate and work well with your teammates, get along with people and interact with guests is a very large part of the job. The other thing that Sherry wants others to know is that animal keeping isn’t as easy as just scooping poop all day. Although cleaning up after the animals is one of our main duties, it takes great discipline, judgement, and keen observation/ attention to detail to be a good animal keeper.

The last piece of advice is to try and volunteer anywhere you can that involves working with animals. This will not only help you to decide if caring for animals is what you want to do, but the experience will help you to get a job in the field later. To the right is a picture of some of our volunteers preparing food and making fruity icecubes for our lemurs as enrichment.

Join the conversation:

  1. This type of post is so great Marilyn! I’m going to have to expand my links on the Job Opportunities page to get them all in. I appreciate you sharing your insights as well as those of your coworkers for those who are interested to see.

    Posted by Leslie
  2. Thanks Leslie, I hope it helps people!

    Posted by Marilyn

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