The A.S. degree is awarded to students who successfully complete the Zoo Animal Technology training program. The program is designed to meet the needs of those students who wish immediate employment in zoos and other animal care facilities. The Zoo Animal Technology Program at Santa Fe College is unique in its purpose to train students for the vocations of zookeeper and animal technician, as well as other animal husbandry fields.
The Zoo Animal Technology Program is a vocational program offering students a wide range of practical instruction and clinical experience. For this purpose, the college has set aside a natural wooded area of 10 acres on campus. This area has been developed into an active and functioning biological and zoological facility, which is known as the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.
This training curriculum is a series of sequential courses based on required professional competencies. Students are expected to participate in mandatory daily, weekend, and holiday experiences as part of their training in the program.
Graduates currently occupy positions in zoos, aquariums, and animal facilities around the United States. Program graduates are contributing to the field through their leadership, dedication, and professional training.
The Zoo Animal Technology Program at Santa Fe is the premier wild animal technology program in the United States. To facilitate the training of animal professionals, Santa Fe has its own zoo, the Teaching Zoo, located on the college's Northwest campus. Set in a naturally wooded environment, the 10-acre facility is a functioning zoo open to the public with a diverse collection of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Supervised by the professional staff of the Teaching Zoo, the students gain hands-on experience in every aspect of wild animal care, from daily care to habitat construction and maintenance to working with the public.
The Zoo Animal Technology program is a unique program that educates students in animal care and conservation and trains them in the responsibilities associated with working in a zoological facility. In addition to classroom work the students gain practical experience in a working zoo on campus. The faculty members serve both as academic leaders for the Zoo Animal Technology Program and as supervisors of the training experiences in the Teaching Zoo.
Welcome to the Santa Fe College's Zoo Animal Technology Program!
Please read over the following information carefully because it will explain exactly what the program is about and if it is right for you. Failure to do so could significantly delay your entry into the program.
Zoo Animal Technology Program applicants should possess sufficient physical motor, intellectual, emotion and social/communication skills to provide for animal care, safety, utilization of equipment, guest interaction and proper team relationships. Some of the performance standards for the program are outlined below. This list is by no means exhaustive, but should give potential students an understanding of expectations. If a potential student believes they do not possess these skills or abilities, please contact the Zoo Animal Technology Program advisor before applying to the program.
Critical thinking sufficient for working around potentially dangerous animals.
Competent assessment of animal in timely manner; correct interpretation of assessment; readily respond with appropriate actions or communications; ability to work alone and to make correct independent decisions as needed.
Ability to learn, reason, assimilate and understand a wide variety of subjects
Math skills to calculate change in animal weight, change in diet, distance, etc.; ability to learn new concepts related to animal care such as behavior, nutrition, breeding, taxonomy, ecology, etc.
Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
Working with families who may have a varied degree of knowledge and understanding about animals; working with other animal care professionals in stressful or emergency situations.
Communication abilities sufficient for interaction with others in verbal and written form.
Understand and speak the language fluently; ability to follow verbal and/or written instructions; must communicate animal behavior and animal interactions with other keepers and managers; document daily procedures performed in enclosures and with animals; consult with other animal care providers in a professional manner.
Physical abilities sufficient to move around an 8 acre outdoor facility safely and quickly; maneuver in small spaces; Includes the strength necessary to lift and carry 50 lbs. as needed. Bend, stoop, squat, kneel, push/pull, crouch, climb ladders and reach areas of exhibits. Stand for 4 hours at a time.
Walking to and from exhibits, kitchen or supply areas; walking exhibit to exhibit to take care of all animals while on a team; assisting in animal transport. Move around entire area of an exhibit, climbing up ladders, bending under branches, reaching above shoulder to platforms. Sitting at a computer, desk or work station.
Tactile and Motor Skills
Gross and fine motor abilities sufficient to safely and effectively perform animal care. Tactile ability sufficient for physical assessment and to provide animal intervention.
Draw medications with syringe, hold and manipulate animals; open locks with keys, hold and utilize tools (hammer, knife, drill, etc.) appropriately, pick up small pieces of debris; write records on paper and on computer.
Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and assess animal needs.
Hear animal vocalizations, danger sounds (running hooves, hissing); heart sounds, bowel sounds, breathing; hear radio transmissions; hear alarms around buildings, telephones; converse with guests, other zookeepers, and staff.
Visual function sufficient for observation and assessment.
Reading animal records, charts/flow sheets and graphics on paper and on computer screens; drawing up and administering medications; assessing animal skin color; reading thermometers; identify animal markings (leg bands, ear tags, etc) from a distance of 50 ft.
Animal Handling and Feeding
Comfort level handling, grasping, restraining collection animals as well as comfort handling animals for food.
Touch a variety of animals including mammals, birds, reptiles (including snakes), amphibians and invertebrates; handling a variety of food items including meat, rodents, insects, fish
Handle plant material
Ability to handle plant material
Invasive, toxic and injurious plants must be removed from the animal environment; edible plants, fruit and vegetables must be handled, cut, chopped, mashed and delivered to the animals.
Work near moving machinery
Comfort and awareness to work around moving machinery
Weed trimmers, riding and push lawn mowers, chainsaws, vehicles, golf carts, may be used in and around the facility
Exposure to weather and environmental changes
Ability to handle marked changes in temperature, humidity and rainfall; ability to work in dusty and windy conditions.
Temperatures will range from below freezing to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit; humidity may be 95%; rainfall may exceed 2 inches a day; wind may gust to hurricane levels
Stress coping mechanisms to deal with demands (stresses that are associated with the job and/or the work environment so that acceptable levels of performance and overall contribution are maintained)
Working under time sensitive situations, frequent deadlines; working with animals and humans which depend on your accuracy of work for their safety; working with living animals who's health, physical, psychological and social characteristics may change frequently.
Travel by car
Ability to travel by car locally
Education outreaches take place off sight, travel locally and during work hours is required to serve our community.
Ability and willingness to work weekdays, weekends, holidays and breaks between semesters
Animals must be cared for 365 days a year, students must be available to contribute on a set schedule throughout the year.
Ability to manage bites, stings, scrapes, bumps, bruises and abrasions
Bites may include fire ant, bee, wasp, hornet, spider; handling native and collection material may result in scrapes, cuts, bumps, bruises, abrasions.
Fifty pound weight test
Fifty pound test: All students entering the Zoo Animal Technology Program will be tested on their ability to lift 50 pounds safely to their shoulder and carry the item for 50 feet. The test will be given on their first day of Basic Keeper Laboratory (PAZ1310L) prior to the withdraw deadline. Any student that fails to show that they can complete the test will be dropped from all Zoo Animal Technology program courses and not allowed to continue in the program at that time. In this instance, a student may schedule a retest at a later date (3 months). A successful demonstration of the exam will be required before a student will be allowed to enroll in the next available incoming class.
For the actual test, the student is required to properly life a 50 pound bag of dry animal feed from the ground to their shoulder, while in a kneeling position. Next, stand up with the bag balanced on your shoulder and walk with the bag for 50 feet. Finally, carefully lower the bag from your shoulder down to a raised surface such as a table (approximately 3 feet off of the ground). During the exam, the instructor will also be watching for any signs of physical challenges that would jeopardize your safety in the program.
Working in a zoological park requires that you dress in a practical, safe and professional manner. Not only do you have to avoid animal hazards such as having your shirt-tails grabbed or having earrings ripped out of your ears, but you must dress in a manner that is acceptable to the public.
As animal professionals we have very important messages to share with the public (i.e.: conservation issues for animals). When we speak with the public we do not want jewelry, extreme hair styles or tattoos to be "a distraction" from our message. Also as a safety issue when dealing with wild animals, some dress styles or hanging jewelry could be hazardous.
We have created this dress code based on the standards that are accepted in the field, but also with the common sense to realize that most college students can't afford to purchase several sets of uniforms. We now require a uniform T-shirt to be worn while working in labs, participating in zoo events and for zoo tours. These will be available for purchase (3 to 5 shirts each) during your first few weeks of classes.
Along with the t-shirts the typical zoo dress includes:
- blue jeans or khakis
- shorts (safari style or shorts that reach to mid- thigh)
- Shoes that cover the entire foot (such as tennis, jogging, light hiking or work boots)
- Socks/crew (must come over your ankle and up your calf)
- Belt – plain with no embellishments
- Gloves (work gloves, leather or equivalent - not garden).
- Watch (break away)
- Rain Gear (Must have rain coat but pants are also recommended)
The following are things that you need to know will not be allowed while working in the Teaching Zoo:
- Earrings. One earring (small stud) per ear. No dangling or loop earrings are allowed, as they may be grabbed by the animals or caught on exhibit props.
- Tongue rings, nose rings, eyebrow rings. These are not appropriate for the zoo field, so they are not permitted at all and must be taken out during lab, tours or any zoo event.
- Necklaces. Dangling pendants, chokers or chains may be grabbed by the animals or caught in other ways. Do not wear any type of necklace while working in the zoo...
- Rings. Rings are actually quite dangerous to wear. You may wear one ring (total) but even that is not advisable, you may end up losing that finger if the ring gets caught in exhibit materials or caught by an animal.
- Perfume or Cologne – using perfume and cologne is discouraged. Some animals react adversely to these orders as do some humans. Personal hygiene is important; always use deodorant daily but excessive use of perfume and cologne is discouraged.
- Extreme Styles – avoid extremes in style, including hair styles, hair color (all hair color should be natural), fingernail colors, etc. You do not want to distract from our message concerning conservation and animals.
Tattoos may have become popular, but most facilities will not hire employees that have tattoos that cannot be covered. While in the zoo, all tattoos must be covered.
Please take review the link provided below for General Education Courses and Program Courses that are for the Zoo Animal Technology Program.
Santa Fe Zoo Animal Technology program also has cooperative programs with:
- Friends University - Wichita, Kansas 67213
Degree: B.S. Zoo Science
- University of West Florida - Pensacola, Florida
Degree: B.S. Interdisciplinary Sciences with Specialization in Zoo Science (Scroll to bottom of link for information.)
The above cooperative programs were created for students who have had little or no college experience - so that it would take them less time to obtain a Bachelor's Degree.
SF does not offer on-campus housing so you must make your own housing arrangements. Off-campus housing is readily available in Gainesville, a college town that is home to the University of Florida as well as SF. Here is a link that you can check for housing: Gainesville Apartments and Condominiums.
|In State Tuition (per credit hour)|
Professional Credit Hours
Out of State Tuition (per credit hour)
Financial Aid is available. Please contact their office at 352-395-5480 or visit the Financial Aid web site for more information. Financial aid should be applied for at least six months before you want to enter the program.
Read each question carefully before filling out the application for Zoo Animal Technology Program.
Please review the proper steps that need to be taken when applying for the Zoo Animal Technology Program.
Step 1: Apply at SF College Office of Admission
- Complete a Santa Fe Application for Admission at www.sfcollege.edu/admissions. (Note: The Program application is separate from the SF College Application. Acceptance by the College does not guarantee acceptance to the Zoo Animal Technology Program.)
- Arrange and send official transcripts from high school and each post-secondary institution attended to be sent to the Office of Records at Santa Fe College least one month prior to our application deadline. (Note: Do not mail transcripts with your Zoo Animal Technology Application.) Santa Fe College
Office of Records
3000 NW 83rd St.
Gainesville, FL 32606
- Be prepared to take College Algebra (MAC 1105 or equivalent) and College Composition (ENC 1101 or equivalent). See Testing section below for further information about required college placement testing or to be exempt from placement testing.
- Possess a 2.0 or higher overall college GPA.
Step 2: Apply at Zoo Animal Technology Program Office
- It is not required, but highly suggested that you make an appointment to tour the Teaching Zoo. In order to make an appointment, please contact the Zoo receptionist at 352-395-5601, explain that you are a potential student and you would like a tour.
- Download and print the Zoo Animal Technology Program Application on the right sidebar on top of this page. (Note: Please write clearly on application as applicants will receive information via mail or email.)
- Applications must be received no later than June 15th, 2017 for January 2018 admission. Post mark dates will not be considered for timeliness of application. Late or incomplete paperwork will not be accepted.
- Documentation of work experience, volunteer experience and military experience must accompany application. Post mark dates will not be considered for timeliness of application. Late or incomplete paperwork will not be accepted.
- Applications will only be accepted for one admission cycle at a time. Applicants not selected for a particular admission cycle must reapply in order to be eligible for the next cycle.
- All transcripts must be sent to the Office of Admission at Santa Fe College.
- All application materials and documentation must be submitted together in one packet by mail or fax to:
Advisor, Zoo Animal Technology Program
Santa Fe College
3000 NW 83rd St.
Gainesville, FL 32606 -OR- Fax Number: 352 395-7365
- Download Applicant Important Dates Timeline to ensure proper submission of required documents.
Important Points to Remember
It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure all documents are complete and on file with the Zoo Animal Technology Program Office by the application deadline. Each document must clearly identify the applicant. This includes proof of volunteer service or relevant work experience. Incomplete, unsigned or unidentifiable documents are not eligible for selection points consideration.
Submitted documents will not be transferred or copied. Please retain all originals as the Zoo Animal Technology Office cannot make duplicates. Documents not required for selection purposes will be destroyed. All previously earned degrees or certificates must meet Santa Fe College accreditation standards in order to be considered for application or selection points. Santa Fe College expects all students to acquire or have access to the computer hardware and software necessary for program participation.
ALL TRANSCRIPTS MUST BE SENT TO THE OFFICE OF ADMISSION AT SANTA FE COLLEGE.
For questions about placement testing into a College-level Math (CLM testing) please contact the testing center (http://www.sfcollege.edu/bol).
Requests for testing accommodations must be made in advance with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) located on the Northwest Campus in S Building, room 222. Please be prepared to provide documentation of disability to the DRC when making the request. Contact 352-395-4400v/TTY for further assistance.
Selection Process and Application Requirements
The Selection Criteria/Points System is used by the program to determine which applicants will receive an invitation to the program. Applicants will be ranked according to points earned. Graduates of high school animal technology programs and participants of targeted college programs may be eligible for additional points consideration. Overall post-secondary GPA will be used as primary tie-breaker criteria.
Selection Criteria / Points System - Fall 2016
This system is utilized for the Fall of 2016. Subject to change for future enrollment periods.
Overall Post-secondary GPA
|Master Degree||20 points|
|Bachelor Degree||15 points|
|Veterinary Technician Degree||10 points|
|Associate of Arts Degree||7 points|
|Associate of Science Degree||7 points|
|Agricultural/Technical High School||5 points|
General Education Courses Completed
Any combination of the following applicable general education courses
|General Education Courses||A||B+||B||C+||C|
|Communication (Public Speaking)||5||4||3||2||1|
|English (College Comp)||5||4||3||2||1|
|Math (College Algebra, Topics in Math, Statistics)||5||4||3||2||1|
|Science Class (General Bio, Core Bio)||5||4||3||2||1|
|Social Science (Intro to Sociology, General Psychology)||5||4||3||2||1|
Related experience is any animal field: zoo, aquarium, shelter, pet store, farm, domestic animals, etc.
All related volunteer and work experience must be concisely documented on official agency/organization stationery and signed by volunteer coordinator or supervisor. Incomplete documentation will not count towards points consideration
|100+ hours documented related volunteer experience||5 points|
|100+ hours of paid work in a related job||5 points|
Military Service 5 points
Military Service points will be awarded to US Armed Forces active duty and honorably discharged veterans. Includes recent Reservist and National Guard combat deployments. DD-214 or proof of current service required. Minimum one year active duty service required.
Information in this packet is subject to change. It is the applicant's responsibility to check with the Zoo Animal Technology Website for up-to-date requirements.
Accepting an Invitation to the Program
Applicants will be notified of status by United States mail only. Date of notification will be posted on the Zoo Animal Technology web page and Facebook. Applicants are strongly advised to verify their mailing address by logging on to eSantaFe. An incorrect address may result in delay of notification. No status information will be given over the telephone. To accept a position in the program, selected students must return the response form and complete all required TB (tuberculosis) screenings by established deadlines. Failure to do so may result in the loss of a seat in the program. Full acceptance to the program is based upon successful outcome of all screenings.
For questions about the application process please contact the Zoo Animal Technology Program Advisor, Bobbi Cabaret, at:
Zoo Animal Technology Program
Santa Fe College
3000 NW 83rd St.
Gainesville, FL 32606