Bronx Zoo welcomes California sea lion pups — What zoo jobs are there for students?

They show up in our Facebook feeds, on Pinterest, and occasionally on Twitter: zoo babies, those adorable small creatures that our friends just can’t help but pass along, hoping to get a smile out of the people who read their feeds. When you see one of those cute-overload critters, do you retweet? If you’re the type who has been avidly following the latest news about the Bronx Zoo’s new California sea lion pup, then zoo jobs may be something you should consider for your future. But before thinking too hard about your future career, how about some cute?

California sea lion pup at the Bronx Zoo

California sea lion pup at the Bronx Zoo (photo by Julie Larsen Maher/WSJ Staff)

It has been a good two years for the sea lion population at the Bronx Zoo. In 2012, a California sea lion pup showed up during the Super Bowl in California and couldn’t be trained to keep away from humans. The pup, named Halftime, moved to the Bronx Zoo. On June 28, 2013, a new female pup was born to Indy, one of the Bronx Zoo’s adult sea lions. As of a September 3, 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “Adorable sea lions arrive at three New York City zoos,” the new pup hadn’t yet been named.

As per the title, the Bronx Zoo wasn’t the only zoo in New York City with new arrivals: two female pups made their way to the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, and two adult male sea lions transferred from Oregon to the Queens Zoo. The two pups, who were orphaned and stranded in California, “are doing well and learning basic behaviors from the zoo’s animal keepers,” the Wildlife Conservation Society shared in a press statement, reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Tigers and pandas, oh my!

Fisher kitten Wasabi

Fisher kitten Wasabi (Photo by Tallie Wiles, Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

The Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, D.C. has been celebrating new arrivals this summer, as well.

First, male fisher kitten Wasabi was born on May 17, 2013. His parents had a litter of two last year, so the fisher cat population at the Smithsonian is increasing in both population and cuteness.


On August 5, two rare Sumatran tiger cubs were born to the zoo’s adult female, Damai. This was her first litter. Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, “said to have dwindled below 500 in the wild – and only 65 being in North American zoos,” Nina Golgowski reported in her New York Daily News article on August 8, 2013, “Rare Sumatran tiger gives birth to two cubs at Washington’s Smithsonian Zoo.” The month old cubs are still in seclusion until they’ve had all their shots, and they’re still unnamed – but one is male and the other is female.

Sumatran tiger cubs

Sumatran tiger cubs (Photo by Karen Abbott, Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

Then on August 23, panda fans celebrated the birth of a brand new panda cub to giant panda Mei Xiang. Though two cubs were born, one was stillborn; the surviving cub was found to be female through use of genetic tests on September 4, 2013.


Working with the animals

All those zoo babies have to be in good hands, whether it’s being weighed in a bowl or having tests done to discover their genders. But say the life of a zookeeper isn’t for you. What other types of jobs could you find at a zoo?

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there are plenty. “You don’t have to work with animals to work in zoos and aquariums,” a contributor wrote on their “Careers” page. “You can be an educator, a fund raiser, a graphic designer or artist, a horticulturist, or a photographer.”

Here are some of the jobs you might pursue if you’re not a biology major:

  • Are you a finance major? Zoos need bookkeepers! You could pursue work as a finance manager or director.
  • Curators may work with the animals, growing the collection and doing strategic planning, but there are a number of curator jobs that aren’t directly animal related. If you’re a design major, an exhibit curator position might work for you. You’d be responsible for helping create the zoo’s signage. An education major might find a position as curator of education.
  • If you’re good with computers and administrative work, you could work in the registrar, where you’d be expected to apply for permits and licenses for animal acquisitions.
  • Communications majors might have an in with the public relations department at a zoo.
  • Business majors, you’re required in the marketing department, as fundraising staff, or as membership director.
  • You’re a philosophy major, but you have a ton of retail experience from your gig at the campus bookstore? No problem! Your customer service expertise can be used as a gift shop manager or in visitor services.

If you are a biology or zoology major and are hoping to pursue a job as a keeper, consider applying for an internship at your local zoo to check out what life is like on the job. Besides, you might get a first hand chance to take one of the pictures that ends up on everyone’s Pinterest feed.

1 reply
  1. John Benjamin Sciarra says:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I would like permission to use the sea lion photo in my book “Samson The Steller Sea Lion and Friends” about my experiences working at a public aquarium. I will credit the photo as you wish.

    Thank you!

    John Benjamin Sciarra
    Author of 6 published novels


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