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Future careers

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by JaffaNeko, 6 Feb 2018.

  1. JaffaNeko

    JaffaNeko New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    So in the future I want to go into cat conservation, I always envied those you see on Nat Geo etc sitting in forests and waiting for something exiting to happen (also setting up camera traps and tracking). I would like to go down the route of working in the adventure of finding something new.

    So im just wondering if anyone on here, who either works with cats or researches exotic cats had to take a specific career path to get to where they are now?
    Im looking into internships and jobs but i dont feel as if they would get me to where I want to be or the career im so hoping to achieve.

    (Im also currently in my last year of a foundation degree for the management of animals with conservation, so im just looking for ideas on what useful pathways there are that I may have missed)

    Any comment is welcome. Thank you :)
     
  2. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    If you want to be a field researcher (and actually get paid for it), it is virtually certain you will need a PhD. Even then it will be tough to make a living, though if you can get on with Panthera that is a really good gig. I would contact them for advice. A friend of mine got his PhD recently from University of Arizona with a dissertation on mountain lion genetics (based on scat collection in remote west Arizona). He got hired by the UofA for a year after graduation but is now looking for a job. He is very dynamic and does public talks on conservation and co-founded the non-profit Fishing Cat Conservancy. And he is still having a hard time getting a job. So it's a very tough (but not impossible) calling. However, if you are not willing to get a PhD then I think your chances are very, very low indeed.
     
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  3. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I volunteered in lynx research, and I can tell you that 'adventure' and 'exciting' are not what it is about. In short: people who study wild cats see the cats on average once or twice a year. Most adventurous is maybe if your car gets stuck in mud. Or somebody steals your field equipment from the forest - I hope not.

    I suggest you volunteer as fast as possible. First, to get personal contacts. Second, to learn how the work of a field biologist looks like. In short: almost impossible to get a permanent job. One is jumping between grants, making it difficult to get a family, unless you happen to have a wealthy spouse. Then, it is not exciting but rather repetitive, and actual contact with animals is very rare. Much time is spent outdoors in bad weather. By far most of the time is spend on writing grants and looking at cat poo and possibly bones. It is good hobby but not a job.

    There are few people in the UK working with wildcats - maybe track them and visit personally?
     
  4. agnmeln

    agnmeln Well-Known Member

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    I agree that having a healthy bank of relevant contacts and connections is massively important, so get building that network!
     
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  5. JaffaNeko

    JaffaNeko New Member

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    Well I am waiting on internships at the moment for a cat sanctuary and hopefully i could progress through that If i get in and if not i might just have to go with whatever i can get. I just want to see how other people got into their positions :)
     
  6. agnmeln

    agnmeln Well-Known Member

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    Good on you for pursuing your passion.

    Internships, volunteering and any other ways you can find to build up related experience are key for any competitive industries where the number of paid roles can be few and far between.

    I always remember a senior staff member at Highland Wildlife Park once saying to me that when it comes to recruiting for roles, the first port of call is always to look at people within the current base of volunteers.

    Best of luck! I hope you get to make it happen!
     
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  7. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    People I know got jobs via personal contacts and waiting plus a stroke of luck. When a position opened, they were there. :)

    Please always remember there is a huge drop-off rate. Thousands of people want to work with wild animals, and there is only a handful of jobs.

    You should also think what kind of wildlife job (if any) is right for you. An internship in a cat sanctuary (I understand a place which cares for captive cats) will mean little for field biologists. They would value outdoor skills and much physical stamina (not for fighting off dangerous animals but for carrying heavy equipment in the field and such). People who want much contact with animals may think of becoming a veterinarian. I know of two girls who originally studied field biology but ended as very good vets. I am not sure what is your degree about, but working something like administrating a nature reserve is still a different career path.
     
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  8. JaffaNeko

    JaffaNeko New Member

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    Yes, it has been a challenge to hunt around for possible job adverts to get an idea of it.

    I'm torn between the experience and going straight into field work, I know so many want to experience but its a challenge to find, If not there are some nice ranger jobs going here and there.
    The degree in doing focuses a lot on in-situ and ex-situ conservation and management, it's just taking a next step from there which a little bit of a struggle aha.

    Thank you for all of your help :)
     
  9. agnmeln

    agnmeln Well-Known Member

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    Hit a few charities up and see what you can find out about volunteering opportunities - I’m not going to pretend to be up on cats, but maybe Wildlife Asia could be a good place to start? They are a conservation charity and they do look after cats. I’m sure they have a volunteer programme at Phnom Tamao Zoo & Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia, and they also run many field based projects including rehabilitation, reintroduction, education, community development, alternative livelihood, capacity building and research.
     
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  10. BeakerUK

    BeakerUK Well-Known Member

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    I can't offer any advice, but I wish you luck in pursuing your interests.
     
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  11. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Well, if you have a chance to get suitable experience in a paid job, it is ideal and by all means go for it!
     
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  12. natel12

    natel12 Well-Known Member

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    I know a person whose friend got a job with big cats because she volunteered at an animal shelter and played with and took care of the cats there. That counts as big cat experience and my advice is do all the volunteering that you can, this is, of course, if you are looking to work at a zoo.
     
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