Thank you for your interest in learning more about Roger Williams Park Zoo! As you know, our zookeepers and staff are very busy caring for the animals. So, due to the large volume of project and homework assistance requests we receive, we unfortunately don't have the time to answer them all. We hope that you can utilize this webpage as a guide throughout your research. If you have general questions regarding the history of Roger Williams Park Zoo please click here.
Lots of information can be found on the Zoo’s website, specifically in the Frequently Asked Questions section (below) and provided links.
Attend an animal keeper talk! Keeper talks occur daily at 11:30 am. Each day focuses on a different animal in a different habitat. Check our Facebook page for daily updates. Come prepared with two or three questions for our zookeepers; they will be happy to assist you.
Students are always welcome to complete projects and homework assignments from the Zoo’s public areas with the purchase of regular admission. Each Zoo exhibit includes an animal information sign that can be very helpful as you conduct your research.
Please read this page thoroughly, for additional homework assistance other than what is listed:
Written questionnaires may be submitted here
Roger Williams Park Zoo's animal collection includes over 500 rare and fascinating animals, representing more than 100 species from around the world.
Roger Williams Park Zoo has 29 animal keepers and 2 vet technicians. Animal keeper positions can be found in a variety of departments such as animal collections, nutritional services, animal health and animal outreach.
Roger Williams Park Zoo does not provide keeper shadowing or behind-the-scenes opportunities for school projects or homework assignment. However, the Zoo does have internship opportunities throughout the year, from veterinary and animal care to education, and more.
If your project requires an interview of a Zoo keeper or other staff member, please read the Roger Williams Park Zoo staff interviews (below).
If you're in Elementary School:
- Take a trip to your local zoo, aquarium or natural history museum - it's never too early to start learning!
- Read books and magazines, watch nature shows on TV and visit websites on natural history, wildlife and related topics.
- Will your parents allow you to keep a pet? Taking care of a dog, cat, fish or other small animal can teach you a lot about responsible animal care.
- Join your school's science clubs, participate in scouting activities or find educational programs at your local zoo or aquarium.
- Go outside - observe wildlife from your own backdoor.
- Attend ZooCamp!
If you're in Secondary School:
- Begin preparing for your zoo career! Continue to read about animals, observe them, and associate yourself with other "animal" people and organizations.
- Tell your middle school or high school guidance counselors that you're interested in pursuing an animal-related career. They'll help you choose the right classes to help prepare you for further education in college.
- If you're old enough to get a part-time job, consider working or volunteering at a local animal shelter, veterinary hospital, horse stable, Zoo or aquarium. This kind of work can help you gain valuable experience that could be helpful in a zoo career. For more information on the Roger Williams Park Zoo's volunteer opportunities, click on volunteer.
If you're in College:
- Take courses in fields that will prepare you to be a zookeeper, such as life sciences, biology, animal science, natural resource management, veterinary medicine, environmental studies, etc.
- Get a part-time job or internship in an animal-related facility, including vet hospitals, wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos or aquariums.
- Probably the most important factor in being hired into a zookeeper job is the amount of on the job experience you have working with exotic animals. Rarely does anyone (no matter what their education is) get their first paid full-time position without have some sort of work experience to back up their knowledge.
- For more information on the Roger Williams Park Zoo's internship opportunities, click on internship.
What works for one animal may or may not work with another animal. When we provide enrichment activities and items to our animals, we first and foremost have to make sure that it’s safe for them. So before we provide our animals enrichment items, we need to have a solid understanding of what they will and will not tolerate.
Examples of specific enrichment items we use at the Zoo include:
- Scent enrichment: Perfumes, spices, novel food items, hair from other animals, urine
- Visual enrichment: Mirrors (outside the cage), hanging mobiles outside the cage, etc.
- Tactile: Balls made of hard plastic, rootballs of trees, different substrates (hay, shavings, browse, etc.)
- Foraging: Hide food, puzzle feeders, boxes, paper mache, etc.
- Furniture: Logs, boulders, etc. These allow animals to climb or hide behind.
"Today’s zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums have accepted a leadership role in preserving Earth’s tapestry for today and for future generations. And that leadership challenge is not a burden. It is a joy."
Roger Williams Park Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is home to many endangered species. As a result, the Zoo participates in cooperative conservation and breeding programs to help ensure the future survival of many endangered species. The Zoo is the recipient of numerous awards for conservation work done both locally and around the globe - making us a leader in conservation.
Check out this great article by Perth Zoo on why Zoos play an important role.