Animal Technician

Summary

Animal technicians help veterinary, medical, pharmaceutical, agricultural and general scientists and students to care for and check on animals used for research, breeding and scientific purposes.

Duties & Tasks

Animal technicians may perform the following tasks:

  • perform daily checks and record the health status and behaviour of animals in their care
  • prepare food and water, and provide care for laboratory, field or zoo animals
  • maintain zoo exhibits, holding or breeding areas and equipment
  • assist in return-to-the-wild and animal enrichment programmes
  • carry out experiments using animals, recording the results under supervision and according to relevant codes of practice and the organisation's animal experimentation ethics committee rules
  • examine animals and take samples of their body fluids, faeces or tissue for analysis or veterinary inspection
  • inspect and test animals for worm infestation and disease
  • observe animals' reactions to tests
  • make routine calculations, such as for drug dosage, and prepare graphs
  • clean and disinfect cages and facilities, and sterilise equipment
  • work under supervision to establish and maintain breeding programmes
  • assist with fertility testing for sheep, cattle or poultry research
  • assist in the selection and grading of animals for breeding programmes
  • help with injections, surgery, dressings and care of animals after operations
  • assist with the design and use of animal experimentation and research protocols
  • euthanise animals humanely (under supervision) and handle animals that have died
  • participate in embryo transfer procedures
  • assist with post-mortem examinations on dead animals.

Specialisations

Field Assistant

A field assistant cares for large animals, such as sheep and cattle used for research purposes, which are kept in outdoor pens and paddocks.

Zookeeper

A zookeeper helps to care for animals in zoos and wildlife parks, providing enrichment activities for the animals, assistance to veterinary staff and information to the public on animals and conservation.

Working Conditions

Animal technicians are usually required to work in shifts and on weekends. Some duties involve working with large animals and exotic species, which is often performed outdoors and conducted in all kinds of weather conditions. Much of their time is spent doing routine tasks such as cleaning exhibits and feeding animals.

Personal Requirements

  • enjoy practical and manual activities
  • interested in animals, their welfare and conservation
  • able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • able to make accurate observations
  • free from allergies aggravated by animal hair, feathers, fur and dust
  • able to undertake manual and sometimes heavy work.

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