The Average Salary of a Zoo Veterinarian

Zoo veterinarians treat a variety of animals as well as help design their living spaces.
Zoo veterinarians treat a variety of animals as well as help design their living spaces. (Image: Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Touted as a dream job in an article by USA Today, a zoo veterinarian isn’t always liked by his patients, especially when he’s planning to tranquilize them for treatment. Advised to get training in private practice first, a zoo veterinarian can study at one of 27 schools across the nation. The field is highly competitive with only about 2,800 zoos and aquariums in the world, according to

Median Salary

In a survey across the United States, reports the average salary of a zoo veterinarian to be $77,713, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median wage is closer to $90,470, labeled as other professional, scientific and technical services in May of 2009. Salaries vary by the zoo population, its location and the variety of animals that the zoo veterinarian treats.

Bonus and Benefits

The average bonus reported for a veterinarian is $1,500 and some veterinarians can earn commissions of up to $8,000 as well. A flex-time, flexible schedule is worth approximately $7,675 to the zoo vet, a 401k program about $8,700 and zoo vets receive drink perks valued up to $350 per year according to

Vacation Schedules

Zoo veterinarians with over 20 years experience receive up to 3.1 weeks of vacation, 2.7 weeks at 10 to 19 years on the job, 2.0 weeks between 5 to 9 years and 1.6 weeks for those employed 1 to 4 years on the job.


According to the University of California, Davis, nationally recognized as a leading veterinarian school, zoo vets receive the same training as that of a private practice vet. A veterinarian education takes four years of undergraduate work and four years for licensure. To get a job with some zoos, a vet also needs a residency or internship of at least three to four years.

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