How To Become a Curator at a Zoo

Find out how to become a zoo curator. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in zoo curating.

Nearly all zoos require curators to have at least a bachelor’s of science degree in an animal-related subject such as zoology, animal behavior, animal science, conservation biology, wildlife management or marine biology.

Zoo Jobs: Meet a Curator

What does a zoo curator do?

A zoo curator is responsible for organizing zoo animals care and habitats, maintaining exhibits and supervising staff. They oversee a wide variety of species and work closely with zookeepers, support staff, veterinarians, educators, volunteers and visitors. A zoo curators daily duties might include:

Curators work at zoos or other animal facilities, spending time in an office performing administrative duties as well as on the grounds observing animals. They work regular hours and full-time, unless a call or an animal emergency require them to work nights or weekends.

What is a zoo curator?

A zoo curator is a management-level employee at a facility that houses and displays animals. They oversee the care of the animals and manage the zoos staff. A zoo curator might be responsible for a zoos entire population of animals or specialize in one area, such as mammals, reptiles or birds. Curators work at zoos, aquariums, conservation centers, animal parks, marine parks and research facilities. They might also be scientists, researchers, biologists or zoologists.


Most zoo curators need a bachelors degree and experience working with one or more animal species. Follow these steps if you want to become a zoo curator:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

Nearly all zoos require curators to have at least a bachelors of science degree in an animal-related subject such as zoology, animal behavior, animal science, conservation biology, wildlife management or marine biology. Take courses that can prepare you for a career working with zoo animals, including animal health, behavior, reproduction and management. You might also consider taking business courses to develop your management and administrative skills.

2. Work with animals

Find opportunities to care for and handle animals before, during and after getting your college degree. Experience working with animals is a requirement for all zoo curators, and the earlier you can develop your animal skills, the greater advantage you have over other job candidates. Volunteer at, get an internship with or work part-time for:

3. Get a masters degree

Many zoos now prefer to hire curators with a masters degree in a field such as zoology, animal behavior, biology or animal science. These two-year programs provide students with advanced animal knowledge in topics such as evolutionary biology, genetics, animal physiology, ecology and molecular biology. A masters degree can also qualify you for senior-level positions or curator jobs at larger and more renowned zoos. Curators who also earn a doctorate degree can pursue higher-paying research-based jobs.

4. Apply for entry-level jobs

You need several years of professional experience at a zoo or animal facility before you can apply for zoo curator jobs, which are management-level positions. Start your career by applying for lower-level jobs such as zookeeper, tour guide or veterinary technician.

5. Join a professional organization

Become a member of one or more industry organizations to benefit from their networking and continuing education opportunities. Professional zoo organizations include:

These types of associations often host educational conferences and provide job search resources, as well.


Zoo curators require a unique combination of animal and people skills to succeed in their jobs. Common zoo curator skills include:


How long does it take to become a zoo curator?

Educational Requirement

To become a Zoo Curator, the aspiring candidates need to hold at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a wildlife biology, zoology or related field. Managerial and business training is also desirable. A master’s degree or a Ph.

What is a zoo curator job?

A curator in a zoo is responsible for a wide range of activities related to the management of a variety of animals, including mammals, reptiles and amphibians, birds and sea creatures. Curators may specialize in a particular type of animals, such as carnivores, or be responsible for all the creatures in the zoo.

What is the difference between a zookeeper and a curator?

The zookeeper provides the daily care of feeding, cleaning, and monitoring the animals and their habitats. Curators design the zoo’s budget, remaining mindful of the zoo’s goals. The educational programs they design for the zoo and the animals they procure for exhibition reflect these goals.

What is a general curator at a zoo?

Position Title: General Curator. Position Summary: Under the direction of the Zoo’s Director. Manages the zoo’s animal collection and oversees the acquisition and disposition of animals in and out of the collection. Schedules visits, medical treatments, and procedures with the zoo’s consulting veterinarian.

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