Understanding the difference between Zoology and Zoo Science helps students decide on an appropriate post-secondary education program. If you’ve decided on a career in animal care, you’ll likely need to explore the Zoology vs. Zoo Science examination. Because in the end, the nuances matter when it comes to career options.
Let’s explore Zoology vs. Zoo Science as individual programs that fit the unique needs of passionate animal care and animal biology students.
What is Zoo Science?
Those who pursue a degree in Zoo and Aquarium Science are interested in caring for wild animals living in captivity. These animals might be injured animals receiving treatment, or exotic animals that would not survive without man’s help otherwise.
A Zoo Science degree educates students on animal nutrition and how animals interact and behave. It helps the student understand an animal’s needs at the more core and primal levels.
What can I do with a Zoo Science degree?
A Zoo Science degree or zoologist studies help students transition into a variety of animal care careers. Let’s look at several of the more notable positions students with a Zoo Science degree might be considered for post-school.
No surprises here, a Zoo Science degree directly prepares a student for work as a zookeeper. As a zookeeper, you’ll become a caregiver to animals in captivity. This doesn’t just mean feeding the animals; it also entails observing the animals and collecting data. Such collected data is used to make nutritional and behavioral decisions for the animals.
You’ll help train animals for various things, including working with vets that may need to take their temperature or even collect blood samples.
Often, the zookeeper serves as the zoo’s main point of contact to the public and media alike.
How many years do you have to go to school to be a zookeeper?
There are no exact formal educational requirements to become a zookeeper. But it would be nearly unheard of to get a job as a zookeeper sans a relevant degree. Additionally, a zoo science degree helps elevate your chances of landing a zookeeper job.
The zookeeper position is both emotional and difficult, but it’s also a highly competitive field.
Getting a four-year zoo science bachelor’s degree is your best starting point if you want to land a job as a zookeeper.
The zoo curator position usually recruits from zookeeper personnel. In other words, a successful zoo keeper’s next career jump is often a curator position.
As a curator, you’re more likely to be hyper-focused on a specific group of animal types. For example, you might serve as zoo curator for only exotic animals. You might specifically focus on environmental needs. The job’s exact role is dependent on the zoo’s need and structure.
As a curator, your intimate contact with animals is more limited than that of the zookeeper role. A curator often manages more than it executes. A curator makes more money than a zookeeper position.
A core zoo function is the education of the masses. This is why zoos are a popular school field trip destination. Zoos serve as a unique portal into an exotic and wild animal’s life that students otherwise might never observe or experience.
Because of this, zoos often employ zoo teachers. Zoo teachers or educators have typically served as zookeeper and have a degree in zoo science. A zoo teacher leverages experience as a curator to help with a zoo educator’s public speaking needs.
The zoo educator often has consistent contact with the public.
What degree do you need to work with zoo animals?
A zoo science degree is one of your top options for beginning a career in zoo animal care. But it isn’t the only degree that can help propel a successful career working with zoo animals.
Zoology, animal science, and life sciences are degrees considered by many zoos. Additionally, a bachelor’s in ecology and biology are helpful.
For an inside look at our Master of Arts or Science in Zoo Science, view the video below.
What is Zoology?
Believe it or not, zoo science and zoology are different degree classifications. Zoology is a more biology-based educational endeavor. In zoology, you study animals on a more cellular level.
You’ll dive into animal DNA and genetics and the core biology of all animals.
While zoo science is more hands-on in terms of animal care, zoology is much more of an analytical approach to animal welfare. A zoologist might help create new medicines that benefit an animal or human alike.
Zoologists classify animals by their inherent biology. They organize the chaos of the arduous animal classification process. Zoologists are also highly concerned with animal evolutionary history.
Zoology and zoo science, as you now understand, are distinctly different in scope. This also means zoology sometimes yield different career paths.
What can I do with a degree in zoology?
A zoology degree, like a zoo science degree, can help prompt a career as a zookeeper. Some students who enjoy the hands-on caring experience with animals opt to go into zoo keeping, at least for a short stint.
But often, people with zoology degrees are found working in other, more analytical fields. For example, some careers might include an animal behavior specialist, a forensic biologist, or someone involved with wildlife rehabilitation. A big zoology based career is healthcare.
As you can see, zoology careers often lend themselves to being more analytical in capacity.
Zoo science vs. zoology
And now, the meat and potatoes. As I’ve laid out above, the main difference between zoology and zoo science is that zoology is a more analytical field, while zoo science focuses on animal behavior and welfare.
The two degrees are often confused because, in the end, both degrees can lead to a career in zoo keeping. But that aside, most likely, those with zoology degrees end up in fewer hands-on animal roles and more data-driven positions.