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Animal Care Position?

SpectroPhoenix

Active Member
Original Poster
Hey everyone,

I’m about to start my last year of college at the University of Florida this coming Fall. This entire time I have been taking classes, first zoology and then psychology, with the hope to work at Epcot or Animal Kingdom in some sort of animal care position. I'm planning to apply for the Animal Programs internship after I graduate and hopefully get hired out of there, and if that didn’t work, I was going to take classes over at the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo in Gainesville as I’m told that that’s one of the main places Disney hires from.

Well, now I’m hearing from these boards and from others who have worked with Disney that it may not necessarily be the greatest idea financially, or even the most luxurious job, unless you’re either specializing in veterinary medicine or are someone who is a “higher up”. I, like the majority of those who read these boards, have a passion in Disney and I could honestly see myself happily working for the company in the parks, I’m just not sure if it’s a logical choice for someone in my position. I realize that it probably would’ve been best if I had joined the College Program, but things just didn’t work out to allow it.

I guess what I’m looking for is some advice from this trusted community. Is working with animals in Disney World an unrealistic goal? Perhaps at Rifiki’s Planet Watch or The Living Seas? Maybe even working at The Animal Kingdom Lodge? Is it a potential career that I could live my life working or should I just leave my passions and my career choice separate?
Thanks everyone for your time. I’m just approaching graduation and starting to his panic-mode just a little :veryconfu
 

Tinkrbell

Active Member
It is not an unrealistic goal. My mom's boss's daughter is currently doing a Professional Internship at the Living Seas & she hadn't done the College Program before. I believe she is either a zoology or marine biology major. My advice to you is to apply for the College Program & Professional Internships in the spring to start next summer or fall. The applications should go up in late January. If that doesn't work out for you, go over to the teaching zoo & keep applying.
Financially, the college program isn't very easy if you have bills to pay. Most CPs make minimum wage. I worked 40 hours a week every week during my last cp & after rent was taken out, my checks were about $125 a week. I also lived in a one bedroom at Chatham, so I had one of the highest rents. If I were to have lived at Vista in a 3 bedroom, I would have had about $15 more a week. I managed to live off of that, but luckily, my parents were paying my cell phone bill at the time & I didn't have a car, so I didn't have to pay for gas. I was usually able to get at least one overtime day a week, which gave me about an extra $60.
Many people who work full time for Disney make just over minimum wage. It's possible to live on, you just have to plan ahead & budget.
 

Courtney1188

New Member
What is your major?

You seem to have a much more realistic viewpoint than many people I see looking into a job at Disney, and I think that alone will help you in your search. Beyond that, I agree with what Tinkrbell said
 

ImaYoyo

Active Member
I have a couple of friends in Animal Nutrition. That seems to be the starting point for many that want to go into Animal Care. Another area you can look into would be Educational Programs. There have been numerous openings at DAK, DAKLodge and the Seas for Educational Programming/Animal Programs coordinators. Be persistant and best of luck.
 

Pioneer Hall

Well-Known Member
It is not a hidden fact that Disney does not pay (outside of the highest Sr Manager positions). I think the true determination lies in what you want. Are you willing to sacrifise your finances in order to have the job that you want? Being in a similar position as yourself, I know that I think about this quite often. It is an unbelievably hard decision to make.
 

SpectroPhoenix

Active Member
Original Poster
Hey everyone!

Thanks for the quick responses and the great advice, and sorry for my slow reply.

I’m definitely planning on applying for the College Program & Professional Internships in the Spring. I’m hoping that that gives me some sort of idea of if this is what I’m going o be doing in my future. I realize that if I do get accepted, I’m going to have to be really good at budgeting. I’m lucky as well that my parents take good care of me financially for the most part, but obviously I still have my fears, especially with having so many loans to start paying off when I graduate.

My major is psychology. I would have honestly preferred to major in Marine Biology, but it’s not offered at UF. I was originally majoring in Zoology, but unfortunately, my mind wasn’t built to successfully handle Organic Chemistry, so I had to drop it.

I appreciate everyone’s advice and I do plan on staying persistent. I do believe that it really does boil down to whether or not I’m able to sacrifice financial stability for my passion for Disney. And DisneyInsider, I agree with you completely, it’s ridiculous how unbelievably hard this decision is.

Thanks again!

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Mrs. Jobson

Active Member
It is a great place to work but like others have said, don't go into it thinking you will make a bunch of money. I do advise you to volunteer or maybe work at another Zoo or facility before even trying to get a job with Animal Programs. It is very competetive and most of the people they hire, they hire because they have a lot of experience. I wish you luck in whatever you decide and if you decide on Disney you won't regret it!
 

wizards8507

Active Member
To put forward a dose of honesty, I really don't think you're going to have much luck with a psychology major. Even those with majors in the natural sciences have difficulty getting animal care positions. Furthermore, the single most important criterion for an animal care position is experience in the field. My fiancee interned at the Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey last summer, and this summer she's been doing turtle rehabilitation research, also in the Jersey area. Both of these positions have been unpaid, and it's often an unpaid position that gets you the experience necessary to get a full-time animal care job. Even with that experience (and a Magna ______ laude biological sciences degree), she's looking at a starting salary somewhere in the $35,000 range.
 

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