There is a range of career specialisms where having in-depth knowledge of animal behaviour and psychology is essential. Let’s take a look at some of them!
Zoos, aquariums and conservation groups require individuals who deeply understand animal behaviour. Caretakers work in indoor and outdoor settings to feed and groom animals, clean their enclosures and monitor their health and wellbeing. They are responsible for the diet, exercise, safety and enrichment of the animals in these facilities. Zookeepers, specifically, are involved in studying animal behaviour in a very hands-on and direct way day-to-day.
Veterinary assistants are usually the first point of contact for animal owners and their pets when they arrive at the vet’s office. As animals may be distressed when they arrive, it’s important for a veterinary assistant to understand animal behaviour to identify how best to handle the animal in their care. They are also responsible for pre and post surgery care of the animal, such as feeding, bathing, medicating and carrying out routine lab work on animals.
Training domestic animals (including companion, farm and zoo animals) requires a thorough knowledge of animal’s behaviour. Using learned techniques, animal trainers help the animal to modify their behaviour or direct it as needed. They can either hold classes at a rented venue or carry out home visits to support owners.
Pet store workers aid customers, answering questions about animals and providing advice on aspects such as nutrition, enrichment and training. They look after the wellbeing of the pets for sale and maintain the hygiene of enclosures or cages, overall ensuring that animals are kept healthy before going to their forever home. The number of pet stores continues to rise as more people decide to invite a pet into their lives, a trend that shows no signs of slowing as working from home becomes more common post-pandemic.
Public authorities employ animal control officers to enforce the laws on animal care and treatment. This can mean rescuing and investigating the protection of animals in domestic situations. So being able to recognise the behaviour of animals that are sick, stray, diseased or injured is fundamental for this job. Animal Control Officers make decisions about transporting animals to shelter, the vet or an agency, and/or investigates animal ownership. They collect fees for animal licences and adoption.
- Government and Private Research
Government agencies, private environmental consulting firms and conservation groups hire animal behaviourists to carry out research. In particular these groups observe changes to an animals’ habitat and how it affects foraging and reproduction, tracking and assessing wider implications on local environments and make recommendations on how to contain or reduce any negative impacts. On-going behaviour research is carried out to help design, perform and analyse programmes that can be put in place to improve outcomes and how we manage animal and wildlife care.