The Professional Zookeeper Program has been meticulously crafted to equip students with practical and marketable skills. The extent to which each student benefits from the instruction is directly correlated to their dedication to learning and their earnest effort in effectively applying the training. As graduates of the program, individuals will have the potential to pursue various job opportunities, including but not limited to the following positions:

  • Zookeeper I – (Entry level)
  • Zookeeper II – (Lead or Senior Keeper) – (requires completion of Professional Zookeeper Program with honors)
  • ­Animal Care Professional with Large Carnivore Experience
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • Wildlife / Conservation Educator
  • Nonprofit and/or Facility Operations – with Animal Care Background
  • March 6, 2024
  • June 5, 2024
  • July 10, 2024
  • September 11, 2024
  • November 6, 2024

The One Year Program cost is $2000 (USD) for Tuition and Materials fees (total).​ Contact the school for possible payment arrangements. Sorry, but we are not able to offer financial aid.

Currently, selective dorm-style housing MAY be available. If available and upon acceptance, students will be required to meet rental obligations including work-study. This is in addition to their contracted student requirements.

When this housing is not available, or the student doesn’t qualify, other options are apartments located within 10 miles of the campus. Occasionally students are looking to share housing, but this changes from class to class.

Students are required to provide their own transportation.
Currently the bus line does not come out as far as the campus.
Occasionally students will carpool depending on their school schedule.

Students are required to be on campus for a minimum of 30 hours per week. This is scheduled on a consistent basis with the students in on-site training the same days each week. The average day starts at 7:30 am and generally runs until ~5:30-6:30 pm. Students may be required to work at least one weekend day and/or holidays.

The primary focus of the student’s training will revolve around immersive internships, where they will gain hands-on experience in various aspects of the field. Additionally, scheduled class time will be specifically allocated to foster the development of essential skills. These classes will cover a range of topics, including observational instruction, animal husbandry, enrichment techniques, species-specific nutrition, and animal health and welfare.

Recognizing the dynamic nature of the zoological profession, it is crucial for students to remain up-to-date with technological advancements, in-situ and ex-situ animal populations and politics, emerging trends in animal ownership, rescues, and evolving regulations. Therefore, class time will prioritize addressing these areas of importance.

The specific dates and times of the class schedule will be determined based on factors such as current student enrollment, individual skill levels, and attendance, ensuring the optimal learning experience for all participants.

Depending on the time of year the classes could fill up quickly.
We recommend you send in your application as soon as you can.
Enrollment is based on completion of required paperwork and personal interview.
Should the class become full, the earliest applicants will be given priority.

In order for us to properly process your paperwork and interview, we ask that you have enrolled at least 2 week prior to the start of class.
We understand that special circumstances may arise, so if you are concerned about being late, contact us and we may be able to work with you.

Tuition is due upon acceptance and signing of contracts prior to the start of the course. Students who are not accepted or withdraw prior to the start of class will receive a refund as based on the fee schedule. Students have the option of paying the tuition in two installments, but arrangements must be made with the office.​ Material fees must be paid by the first day of class/training.

A typical day in the program involves engaging in a substantial amount of physically demanding work, which encompasses various tasks such as habitat cleaning, grounds maintenance, food preparation, and basic housekeeping duties. However, it’s important to note that these responsibilities are not exhaustive.

Observation of the animals is accorded utmost priority, allowing students to closely study their behavior and well-being. Keeper talks, aimed at educating visitors about the animals under our care, are also integral to the daily routine.

In addition to practical hands-on activities, academic classes play a significant role in the curriculum. These classes often involve problem-solving exercises, which mirror the real-world challenges encountered by animal care professionals. By engaging in these problem-solving scenarios, students develop critical thinking and analytical skills necessary for their future careers.

Furthermore, the program places great emphasis on developing excellent interpersonal and guest communication abilities. This ranges from engaging in one-on-one conversations with visitors to leading informative and engaging tours, where students can showcase their knowledge and passion for the animal kingdom.

Many individuals often have the misconception that they will be directly interacting with the animals and engaging in hands-on experiences, particularly with majestic creatures like tigers. However, it’s essential to clarify that the Wildlife Academy operates as a protected contact facility, where zookeepers primarily dedicate their time to fulfilling the animals’ basic needs. Interactions are carefully limited to activities that enhance the animals’ quality of life, with the majority of observations conducted from a respectful distance.

Throughout their time at the Academy, students will indeed have opportunities to engage with the animals during scheduled daily husbandry and training sessions. To ensure everyone’s safety, specific procedures and protocols have been established, and adhering to them is of utmost importance. These measures not only protect the well-being of students, staff, and faculty but also safeguard the animals in our care.

The dedicated staff at Cat Tales predominantly consists of highly skilled graduates from the esteemed Wildlife Academy. However, it is important to note that positions within Cat Tales are not frequently available and are exclusively offered to the most exceptionally qualified graduates. Opportunities for employment at other zoos and facilities, including some that are accredited by AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and ZAA (Zoological Association of America), may be accessible depending on factors such as the season, location, and the qualifications of the graduates.

While we cannot guarantee job placement for all our graduates, we are committed to providing assistance to those who excel in our program. We strive to support and guide our graduates in their career endeavors, leveraging our network and resources to maximize their chances of securing employment within the zoological field.

The salary range for zookeepers can vary significantly based on several factors, including the job location, individual experience, and level of education. Another crucial determinant is whether the facility is government-run (e.g., city, state, federal) or privately owned.

As a general guideline, if you meet the minimum qualifications for the position, you can typically expect to earn a living wage that aligns with the cost of living in the specific location. However, higher-paying positions are typically reserved for individuals who possess extensive experience, demonstrate exceptional dedication to the profession, and have pursued further education and specialized training.

It is important to note that the specific salary figures can vary widely depending on the aforementioned factors. Therefore, it is advisable to research and consider the unique circumstances of each job opportunity when evaluating the potential financial rewards of a zookeeping career.

A significant number of our graduates have chosen to pursue higher education, either by enrolling in college or continuing their studies in related fields. The practical animal care experience they have gained through our program enables them to establish strong connections between their hands-on work and the academic subjects they encounter, particularly in biology or zoology classes.

Several graduates have also followed paths to become veterinarians or certified veterinary technicians, leveraging their knowledge and skills to provide specialized care to animals. Others have embraced entrepreneurship by starting their own animal-related businesses, such as training and grooming services or animal rescues dedicated to dogs, horses, cats, and more.

Moreover, the comprehensive training in nonprofit management and public relations equips our graduates with versatile skills that open up endless possibilities. They can pursue various career opportunities that involve working with wildlife, both in the field and within conservation organizations.

The diversity of career paths available to our graduates reflects the breadth of opportunities in the animal care and conservation sectors. Whether it’s further education, veterinary work, entrepreneurship, or wildlife-related fieldwork, our program equips individuals with the necessary foundation to embark on fulfilling careers in their chosen paths.