Animal Careers: Same Mistakes Different Day

Animal career seekers pay attention! You might not like this post–consider this your fair warning.

Today I’ve been getting a lot of compliments, which is a very nice thing.

People get excited about my writing, my animal training, my vast experience in different areas of the animal industry–and even my new hobby that has nothing to do with any of that.

So, I should be excited about it right?

Yes and No.

It is always nice to get a sincere compliment or a, “Thank You!”

I am very blessed and passionate about the work I do.

Plus, I am able to influence others and the animal industry.

All good…and that is the positive side.

Now for the other side…

It always boggles my mind how many people send in emails wanting my time for free. It gets really old because there are a lot of people who do that.

Uh, I got a college degree and worked on developing vast experiences so I could make a living. This means my services are not for free.

My free services are here on the blog but for personal coaching you need to visit the Hire Animal Expert page.

Anyway, I bring this up today because the support team email gets emails of all types.

Some are very complimentary, but today I got to read one that just masked blowing-smoke-up- in-a-place-you-can-only-imagine, simply to get me to answer.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time knows that my subscribers get first priority for personal responses.

Wow, this email was not from a subscriber and it even says what to do to get and answer and how to do it on the contact page where the email was sent.

What a mistake. That person can’t follow directions first off.

The second mistake in this email was that it was fishing for my time.

Did I mention that I charge for consultations and that serious folks make appointments? Oh yeah, they do that on the Hire Animal Expert page.

Now don’t get me wrong, my subscribers and regular readers are awesome.

They really get involved and participate when I ask them questions or hold a contest. Some have been with me since 2004!

Those people usually don’t ask me about my career path since it is explained in the About Ark Lady page, animal expert site, and throughout this blog.

But what makes me cranky (like now) is that a most of the people who want something for free are too lazy to do anything about it.

They write and show that they have not spent any time on this website researching the topic they are interested in.

Hello, the information is here–free of charge (so far anyway).

For example, sincere animal career seekers would have found this:

People who work with animals receive many, many inquiries about careers with animals. Unfortunately, there are many people who contact them without thinking about what questions they want to ask, or who have not done any exploring or thinking through what it is they are interested in, and if it is even possible.

Writing a letter or e-mail without stating your area of interest, educational background, location (or desire to relocate) or why you are contacting someone is not advisable. Many times professionals will take the time to respond to someone who has thought out such things; while they may or may not drop a note to the person who has not bothered to consider that they might be very busy.

If you write something like, “Hi, I am interested in working with animals. Do you have any recommendations?” this does not give the person you have written any incentive to want to assist you. It is too much work to try and guess at your intent. Writing a letter to a busy professional should show respect and consideration of their valuable time. It also should show that you have taken the time to really research the topic and have a real interest in the field. Hundreds of people think they want to work with animals. Very few of them follow through, learn the options and do the work to achieve their goal.

So, to make a long story short, that email won’t get answered because the answers are already here on this website and the person didn’t follow any of the suggestions!

I wonder how many of you who came into read this post have not yet read the Unusual Animal Career Series or the AnimalCareerSecrets.Com blog.

If you have not–better get crackin’.

Okay, so I have to ask a few of questions.

  • Do you work for free?
  • And, if you say you want an animal career are you ready to work for it?
  • If so, what have you done lately to achieve that goal?
About Ark Lady

+ArkLady Enhances the Lives of Animals & Empowers the People Who Love Them! Join the armchair safari or connect via ARKlady website.


  1. Sheila Kaufman says

    Okay, since you asked, yes, I work for free. I get paid by the animals whose lives I’m able to make a little better, but no money ever changes hands. I’ve volunteered for twelve years at an animal rehabilitation and education facility where I have been fortunate to be able to work with a variety of wildlife in a training and handling capacity. Many of your articles on safe handling and training of felids, which I discovered many years ago, have been invaluable in working with an 80lb Eurasian lynx (the love of my life and a permanent resident of the facility) and a couple of cougars, bobcats and a Canadian Lynx.

    Your articles on safety were presented to the newly formed safety committee many years ago. With full credit given to you, of course. I don’t know if I ever told you how pivotal and important that information was to me at that time. It was very difficult to find any relevant information, even for a fee, and you were sharing it for free. So, if not, Thank You!!!

    I’ve also worked with a wide variety of northwest native wildlife for husbandry and educational programs. After researching as much as I could on your site, I also attended a number of seminars held by Karen Pryor and her compatriots, and have brought what I learned back to the resident animals that I work with. It’s been exceptionally rewarding and life enriching for me, but not pocket book enriching, I’m afraid. I am in a life transition stage at the moment so I’m down to one or two days a week at the moment but have worked up to 4 and 5 days a week in the past, as well as fostering many orphaned wild babies ( a 24/7 responsibility for months on end).

    So, I guess that what I’ve done lately is to research a similar facility in the state that I’ll be moving to, and hopefully I’ll be able to work myself into a similar position there, from the bottom up. I have no idea if any of this will ever become a paying position, but as long as I am able, I hope that I’ll have the opportunity to continue working with native wildlife in one capacity or another.

  2. Sheila Kaufman says

    Don’t know how to amend, so I’ll add to my already overly lengthy post, that I’ve been able to work for free ONLY because my husband does not, and his consultations are most definitely for a fee. I totally agree that you should be paid for intellectual property and knowledge. You have been very generous in sharing your knowledge over the years, and a thank you hardly seems enough!

  3. Diana, I figured I’d ask you, since you have personal experience with cetaceans:

    I feel like the only non-industry person taking the orca’s side (although I greatly sympathize with the trainer and her family). But…aren’t these water park “entertainment” animals overworked? I would imagine they are intelligent enough to experience mental stress, just like an overworked human. Is my thinking out of line here?

  4. I am going to discuss this in a blog post to clear up any confusion. Thanks for the question and look for it tomorrow.

  5. LOL thanks for all your kind words Sheila. Many people can share their services when they have a spouse, sponsor, or corporation behind them. Hopefully I’ll be taking on sponsors again for more reach into the public realm.

  6. I’d be interested in knowing what state you will be relocating to.

    When I started in the field I donated a lot of time to different facilities. My unpaid work and studies (high fees back then) got me the experiences that most people today will never have.

    There is a place for generosity and over the years I’ve donated time, services, expertise, and materials to a variety of people, organizations, and facilities but it seems like there is a trend of people wanting something for nothing all the time.

    So, I pick and choose where I give my time and talent. Over the last couple of years I’ve universally said, “no.” Today I am mostly recovered from an unidentified health challenge and am working on getting things back on track.

    It is rewarding to hear that my work has helped you and the animals who are in your charge or that you know.

    Once, I was touring a zoo with the director of a private facility, he did not really trust me because the zoo director did not know me–but I didn’t know him either. The funny thing was that when we turned a corner not too long after that came up, over a dozen zoo keepers and trainers were waiting for me.

    Then I wrote an animal behavior column for the American Association of Zookeepers and they were so excited because they found it very valuable and understandable.

    They were so warm and appreciative that it was a pleasure since most of the time I never heard from those who read my columns.

    I smirked as we walked away and looked at the private facility director asking, “So? What do you think now?”

    Many of us never know how far our impact travels. Thanks so much for your kind words and for putting those resources to work to better the lives of animals.