Conservationists are usually zoologists and wildlife biologists who try to
find the solutions to threats that affect wildlife, such as disease and habitat
loss. They may specialize in a single species of animal, such as bats. They are
professionals who love science, animals, and the outdoors. Many are animal
keepers and curators in zoos or zoological parks.
Conservationists research animal behaviors and characteristics and how the
animals interact with their ecosystems. They perform a variety of scientific
tests and experiments requiring the use of technology.
They perform tasks associated with life in remote areas, including chopping
firewood, swimming in cold water, navigating rough terrain in poor weather,
and carrying heavy packs or equipment long distances.
Conservationists do research, write scientific papers, plan for animal
management, and give educational talks to the public, policymakers, and
academics to further the cause of animal welfare.
Conservationists study the physical characteristics of animals, animal
behaviors, and the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats.
For example, they take blood samples from animals to assess their nutrition
levels, check animals for disease and parasites, and tag animals in order to
They often study characteristics such as origin, interrelationships,
classification, life histories, diseases, development, and genetics. These
studies include animals’ interactions with other species, reproduction,
population dynamics, diseases, and movement patterns.
The study of animals in their natural habitats allows conservationists to
assess the effects of environment and industry on animals. Conservationists
interpret findings and recommend ways to inform and respond to the
public regarding such conservation issues as animal identification, hunting
ordinances, and control of nuisance wildlife.
Conservationists take zoology and wildlife biology courses in ecology,
anatomy, wildlife management, and cellular biology. Courses that focus
on a particular group of animals, like bats, are included, along with
botany, chemistry, and physics. These courses are important because
conservationists must have a well-rounded scientific background. Given
that these scientists must be able to do complex data analysis, courses in
mathematics and statistics are highly recommended.
Conservationists may need to have well-rounded outdoor skills. They
may need to be able to use a generator, provide for themselves in remote
locations, or drive a tractor, boat, or ATV.
Many students gain practical experience working with animals through
internships, volunteer work, or other employment.