What is Wildlife Care?
Do you wish to work hands on with animals? Whether you're a reptile zookeeper feeding a python, a wildlife rehabilitator caring for orphaned ducklings, or an exotic animal vet helping deliver a baby giraffe, a desire to provide for the well-being of animals is what will drive your career. Animal care jobs can range from temporary care with the goal of rehabilitation, full-time care in a zoo or aquarium, or medical care as a veterinarian. All of the careers listed below work directly with individual animals, providing care in some way.
- Wild Animal Caretaker
- Wildlife Rehabilitator
- Wildlife Rescue
Which Major and Option should you choose?
To obtain a career in one of these fields we recommend pursuing a degree in
To further complicate your decision, for each of our majors you also have to select a specialization, known as an Option. Animal Ecology has four different Options, but there are two that are more commonly chosen for those interested in animal care.
Animal Ecology Options
- Pre-Vet and Wildlife Care
- Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
*The Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences option will be most valuable for those wishing to work with aquatic animals in aquariums and zoos.
Still not sure which is best for you? Come for a campus visit! Talking out your interests with an advisor might provide you with some direction.
Tips for pursuing these careers:
- Get experience!
Shadow or volunteer in a veterinarian's office. By doing this you can ask questions about vet school and learn skills important for your career. On the other hand, it can help you discover whether or not veterinary work is for you (maybe you discover you can't stand the sight of blood?). In which case, there are plenty of other careers that allow you to work with and care for animals.
- Become well-rounded!
A lot of animal care jobs will consist of more than just caring for the animals (feeding, enrichment, etc.). If you work with aquatic animals, you'll need to understand filtration systems and maybe plumbing. Depending on your facility, you may need to have some construction skills to build enclosures. Find ways to build your knowledge in these areas.
- Vet School bound?
Check out our page on what you need to know before you apply!
Looking for something to complement your major?
Certificates and Trainings
- Animal Behavior Institute
- Chemical Immobilization
- Conservation & Wildlife in Veterinary Medicine Certificate (Purdue Global)
- Euthanasia Certification
- Science Communication