Explore: Animal care

Animal Keeper
Shepreth Wildlife Park

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Andy Hemmings

00:00:03 When I was a kid and probably until I was a young adult, really, I wanted to be a professional wrestler for a little while. But I realised I was too small. My name is Andy Hemmings, I’m an animal keeper and my, my sort of job role is to muck out the animals, feed them, do talks on them and sort of enrich their lives, keep them interested, make sure they don’t get bored. This is Dave the ferret.

00:00:27 We use ferrets a lot when we’re sort of doing a lot of education work with children because they’re a good animal to get out for kids but the two ferrets that we’ve got at the moment are quite young and playful and when ferrets play they like to bite a lot. So, I’ve actually spent quite a lot of time with Dave here sort of getting him used to being handled and stopping him from biting, really. The main two animals that I work with is the wolves and the otters.

00:00:54 With the otters what I do is, we mainly sort of train them so we clicker train them so they have to follow a target ball and get them to stand up and touch the ball and then they’re sort of treated with food as they’re doing it. And with the wolves we’re quite lucky because our wolves were brought up by people so the best enrichment they get is meeting new people so that’s what we do with them. When I left school I’d kind of had enough of education so I went straight into like, I was doing warehouse work and just had sort of jobs in a bowling alley, I think, at one point and Toys‘R’us was another one.

00:01:33 And then I decided, because I always wanted to work with animals so I decided going through college was something I had to do. Like, a necessary step to, you know, make that happen. So, I did. I went to college for two years and I was actually working here voluntary once a week the whole two years I was at college. And then when I finished I worked here on maintenance and then they took me on as an animal keeper. So, that’s kind of how it came about and that.

00:02:01 I had a National Diploma in Animal Management. They teach you about animal health, breeding of exotics, all the kind of skills you’d need to work in a place like this basically, or be a veterinary nurse or any kind of animal related job, really. I’ve always loved animals. I know when I was younger we had a dog and I used to hang around with that as a kid all the time. I think it kind of stemmed from there and I was obsessed with animal programmes when I was a kid and books and things like that. David Attenborough was a big one, he really inspired me.

00:02:31 At high school I was probably quite an average student, did what I had to do to get the grades that I needed because I always had in mind to go to college and do probably an animal course at some point so I made sure I got the right grades. But I wasn’t particularly worried about getting really high grades or anything like that. The other interests I have I play guitar, listen to music, I’ll go out with my friends sort of socialising, play football.

00:03:03 I’ve got a friend that actually writes, the two of us actually write songs together and but I just do it because I, I don’t know, I just enjoy playing it, really, I don’t, yeah. It’s just a personal thing, I think, a personal enjoyment. Maybe in five, five years or so I’d like to be working in the wild with maybe wild dogs in Africa or possibly somewhere in Europe like Russia with wolves out in the wild. It would be nice to do some conservation work and things like that.

00:03:29 The reason dogs in particular is because that’s kind of how it all started with me, the dog that I had as a kid is really where my affinity with animals came from. The only regrets I’d have is probably not going to university and maybe the doors it could have opened for me. Probably easier to get jobs and things with a degree. But again, it comes down to sort of experience as well. So, I’ve gained quite a lot of that and you can always do education while you’re working as well, so it’s not a massive loss. ENDS

Andy is an Animal Keeper at Shepreth Wildlife Park. “I’ve always loved animals. I was obsessed with animal programmes when I was a kid and books and things like that. David Attenborough was a big one, he really inspired me.” But he didn’t start off working with animals. He worked in a warehouse, a bowling alley and Toys R Us before going to college to study animal management, and going to work at Shepreth.

More information about Animal care services occupations n.e.c.

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

33%  male 
67%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Workers in this unit group care for animals held in kennels, stables, zoos and similar establishments, provide specialised training, grooming, clipping and trimming services for animals, and searches for and captures stray or nuisance dogs in public areas and perform a variety of animal care tasks not elsewhere classified in MINOR GROUP 613: Animal Care and Control Services.
Entry is possible without formal academic qualifications, although some employers may ask for GCSEs/S grades. There is a variety of vocational qualifications available, including NVQs/SVQs in Animal Care at Levels 1 and 2, in Dog Grooming at Levels 2 and 3, and BTEC qualifications and apprenticeships relating to Horse Care.
  • Feeds, washes, grooms, trims and exercises animals;
  • Cleans animals’ quarters and renews bedding as necessary;
  • Houses, feeds, exercises, trains, grooms horses, dogs and other animals in preparation for entry to shows, races and other events;
  • Checks animals for illness, treats minor ailments or calls for vet if further treatment is required;
  • Meets prospective owners and advises on animal selection and animal care;
  • Patrols public areas to search for and capture stray or nuisance dogs, and transports captured animals to kennels.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Agriculture, etc 19945
Veterinary 19461
Sport & recreation 7792
Security, etc 5465
Libraries, etc 5022
Retail trade 4065
Membership organisations 3225
Services to buildings 1998
Other personal service 1989
Education 1380
Employment status

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