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Wild Animals/What should I go to University for?


Hi there. My favourite show is "Big Cat Diaries" and ever since I was little I have wanted to study the big cats of Africa. I live in Canada, and I was going to get a degree in Zoology. But my question is, what job would that be? To go to lets say, Kenya, and study the cats? What would I need to do to get to that job, how many years will it take for me to be able to do that as my profession? Anything you could tell me would be great. Thanks ahead of time!

Dear Cindy

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

I have had several similar questions over the years and the number of people wanting to work with big cats exceeds those wanting to work with all other kinds of animals put together. This leads me to suspect that if you want to specialise in work studying big cats, you will face a lot of competition. gives details about zoology degree courses in Canada. Please take great care before starting a degree.I don't know what the situation is in Canada, but there are many cases of British students making financial sacrifices to take degrees and ending up in low-paid jobs, with little, if any relevance to their degree,or paying off large loans. Despite this, a zoology degree can help you develop a good career.One student from my college has appeared in television and radio programmes, as well as writing several books and leading trips to wildlife habitats.Another graduate works at the Zoological Society of London and has been to various habitats in Asia and Africa. If you are preferred to work hard and make sacrifices, you could be successful, but I suspect you may need to take your chances and perhaps study various animals,while still retaining your interest in big cats.

You could contact various charities,such as Earthwatch, and see if there are opportunities to work in Africa.You will probably have to pay towards this,so it would be advisable to have paid work or to raise money to pay your way.     

Alternatively,you could work as a volunteer at a zoo (see and the zoo in Sakatchewan,which has lions) or a natural history museum (see and develop your skills.This could lead to paid work, including training that could give you more relevant training than you would obtain via a degree.  

Please look at various options, as you may be taking a massive risk with your finances and there is no guarantee that you will achieve your goal via a traditional route. Many years ago, I knew someone who had a relatively low paid job. She lived with a family and got paid a little by providing domestic services.As she wasn't paying for rent or a mortgage, this left her a little money that she used to go on safaris. This may be another way to achieve your goal - develop a career using skills that will pay for your basics and give you enough money to make frequent trips to Africa.

I hope this helps.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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