Zoo Veterinary Technician

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If you’ve ever been to the zoo, you’ve probably wondered, “Who takes care of all the animals?” In many cases, the answer is: a zoo veterinary technician. A zoo veterinary technician is different than a zookeeper. A zookeeper has the daily work of feeding and cleaning the animals. A veterinary technician is trained and certified to care for zoo animals and assist veterinarians by providing a wide variety of services.

Zoo Veterinary Technician Education

Becoming a zoo veterinary technician is a fairly straightforward process. Regulations differ from state to state, but normally there is no special requirement to be a veterinary technician at a zoo than in a small animal clinic. The difference is with the passion and personality of the individual more than anything. You need a greater desire to work with large and exotic animals if you plan to be a vet tech at a zoo. Because of this, many students tend to take extra courses that give them more knowledge in working with these types of animals, reptiles and large cats for example. To become a veterinary technician, you must first complete a training program from an accredited university or training program. Once you have completed your training, you must pass the examination to become certified. Most states utilize the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) certification exam as the standard.

Duties of a Zoo Veterinary Technician

A veterinary technician has been trained to handle all types of health and nursing issues. Because of their broad knowledge of animals, zoo vet techs have a wide variety of duties. Some of the more common responsibilities include:

  • Run and process laboratory tests
  • Conduct dental examinations
  • Monitor animal pregnancies
  • Restrain and crate animals for transport

Zoo Veterinary Technician Salary

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 the average veterinary technician annual salary was $29,710. Many zoo programs offer higher salaries than a vet tech in a small animal hospital or clinic because of the increased danger and more difficult workload.

Wildlife Conservation

Some zoos participate in wildlife conservation programs. Zoo veterinary technicians may participate in the activities of the program and provide support in various ways. They may provide reports on animals that have been identified for breeding, provide specialized care to endangered species, and other conservation-based activities.