Animals can be significant for tourism in the wild (eg. birdwatching, snorkelling, whale watching, wildlife safaris), in captivity (eg. farm tours, zoos and aquaria) and even with pets ( eg. pet shows, pet friendly accommodation).
Scope of Work
Larger, established facilities such as zoos and aquaria may employ people across a wide range of roles; from animal attendants to tour guides; but many of the opportunities you may find could depend upon you running your own business. This area of work can provide an extra income stream to an established farm; by setting up accommodation, farm tours, catering or a farm shop. Wildlife reserves with a primary interest in conservation may develop a source of income beyond reliance on grants. Business opportunities are only limited by ones imagination.
Work may involve:
- Tours - ecotour planning, managing, tour guiding
- Facilities - animal management, site maintenance, interpretative displays, accommodation, catering, transport
- Events - shows, festivals, launches, services (food, security, cleaning)
- Management - administration, logistics, finance, marketing
What You Need to Learn
Animal Husbandry – anatomy, nutrition, understand care and wellbeing of pets, farm animals, wildlife
- Animal Breeding – learn about pure breeding, cross breeding, genetics, selection
- Animal Biology - animal anatomy and physiology, biochemistry
- Animal Welfare -– animal psychology, rescue centres, free and captive animal welfare
- Animal Care - animal behaviour, kinds of illness, treatment, rehabilitation procedures, first aid
- Animal Conservation - animal biology, ecology, habitat, types of interaction
- Taxonomy/Zoology – identification of animals, phylogeny, evolution
- Business Skills - finances, business planning, legislation
- Marketing – basic marketing techniques, sales methods, market research, product knowledge
- Communication Skills – types of communication, know your audience, language and writing skills, visual communications and public speaking
Starting a Career
Working with animals in the tourism sector is rich with opportunities. It can involved tour guiding, zoo work, retail, and more. Pathways to a career in this field include:
- volunteering for a zoo
- joining a birdwatching association
- getting involved with whale watching groups
- assisting for tour guides
- retail work at a shop inside a park or zoo, or as an assistant to visitors.
Increasing your learning and building a network are key to succeeding in this highly competitive field. Try to stay up-to-date on current trends, and invest time in learning more about the animals you're most interested in. People who lay a strong foundation are likely to be more capable, and that generally tends to lead to higher earnings and more long-term career success.
Progressing a Career
Diversifying your learning and experience is a natural, and often very successful way of helping your career to progress. This could involve doing additional study in order to broaden the services you can offer, or deepen the quality of service you offer. It may also allow you to cross over into other related career paths. Ways to progress your career include:
Training in complimentary areas (eg. dive instructing). This means you can teach and take groups on ecotours.
Improving your people skills to interact with tourists.
Furthering your learning. If you are working in an animal entertainment business such as an aquarium or a bird sanctuary, you may look for courses in biology, animal welfare or zoology/ornithology.
Professional development is very important. If you work in a zoo as a zoo assistant for example, management or business courses will be essential if you want to progress to a higher position, such as zoo manager. In wildlife tourism, you may look for professional development in courses related to tourism or more specifically to courses that will teach you new techniques or approaches within the industry.