Do you have what it takes to be a Zoo Keeper? We asked one of our Animal Care Team Leaders, Harmony Neale about her role at Wellington Zoo and how others can get into Zoo Keeping.

Zookeeper Harmony

Harmony Neale, Team Leader of Primates

Tell us about your role and the team you work in at the Zoo.

My role is Team leader of Primates, that means I manage the team of Keepers looking after all the primates here at the Zoo, but we are part of the larger Animal Care team that look after all the different animal species. 

What made you want to be a Zoo Keeper?

I always wanted to do some sort of work with animals and being a Zoo Keeper allowed me to do that as well as passing along my passion to visitors that come in.

How long have you been Zoo Keeping for?

16 years.

What path have you taken to become a Zoo Keeper?

I went to University and got a Zoology degree and then found the Animal management (captive wild animals) at Unitec and that allowed me to get some experience at the Zoo. 

What does a Zoo Keeper do day-to-day?

What a Zoo Keeper does day-to-day can vary but in general we are responsible for cleaning out the animal habitats, providing nutritious food, enrichment (giving the animals things that keep them busy and mentally stimulated), training, looking after the habitats the animals live in, observations on animals to see what they are doing and how they are interacting. We definitely don't cuddle animals all day like most people think!

What kind of qualifications do you need to get into Zoo Keeping?

Animal management (captive wild animals) at Unitec or equivalent is what we look for in our potential Zoo Keepers.

What subjects should I take in High School?

Science based subjects can help but the prerequisites for the Unitec course are on their website here

How do I get a job as a Zoo Keeper?

After completing your study, keep an eye on our current vacancies or the ZAA website for job availabilities.

Do you have work experience opportunities or offer placements at the Zoo?

We offer work experience placements for the Unitec course, otherwise becoming a volunteer is a great way to get to see if working in one of the areas of the Zoo maybe of interest to you.