Elephant Trainer Jobs
Did you know that elephants can spray up to two gallons of water with their trunks? Or that elephants can live to 50 or 60 years old? Or that they can grow up to 10 feet tall and weigh up to 11,000 pounds? Well it's all true. Elephants are one of the world's most recognizable and coolest creatures.
When was the last time you saw an elephant up close and personal? Was it at a zoo or a circus? Was it doing cool things?
Elephant trainers have a great job. They hang out with elephants all day long, monitor health and behavior, and teach tricks. Trainers begin to work with elephants at a very young age. The first lesson is always to never touch the trainer. Elephants are big, and you can imagine what types of accidents might occur. Training helps to increase both animal and human safety. It also develops a relationship between human and elephant that is unbreakable.
Elephants have been trained for 1000s of years. Most elephant trainers get into this field because they love elephants. Some people know this from an early age, while others learn while they are at university for zoology or biology.
Another source of elephant training knowledge is the American Zoological Association's Elephant Management Course. Yet, a more recreational, once in a lifetime, option is to attend a 3 day, $100 course at the Elephant Conservation Center School in Thailand.
The most important training is hands-on. Nothing will help you understand this job better than apprenticing, interning, or even just volunteering. This is the best way for you to know if you are truly cut out to train an animal 100 times bigger than you. Knowing when to reward positive behavior with apple slices is just as important as punishing an elephant. Without proper training, an elephant can be destructive. It can be risky.
Elephant training jobs are few and far between, but if you are determined you can find work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay rate for animal trainers is $12.78 per hour, or $26,500 per year. Some Hollywood studio animal trainers make up to $300 per day, but these gigs are rare.
Elephant trainers can find jobs with zoos, circuses, shows, parks, amusement parks, Hollywood studios, and sometimes even towns. Trainers must know basic training theory, training tools, and methods of training. The key is to develop a relationship with the elephant. This way you can learn to interpret behaviors and actions because every elephant has a different personality. It is also important to continue this relationship once it is developed.
Elephants can be trained to do many things - paint a picture, bounce a ball, or spray water. Training for human entertainment is one thing, but elephants need training for medical exams also. Elephants need to be able to show their feet, open their mouths, and do other things for standard exams and cleanings. This keeps the elephant healthy. Can you imagine cutting an elephant's toenails or brushing his teeth? That's a job not many people have done.
Elephant trainers have it made. They spend most of their time outdoors hanging out with elephants. Training elephants certainly beats hanging out by the office water cooler.
Quick Facts About Elephant Trainers
Job Title: Elephant Trainer/Keeper
Office: Outside and indoors with elephants
Description: Trains elephants for entertainment and health checkups
Certifications/Education: College degree in zoology or biology highly recommended
Necessary Skills: Good with animals, Ability to train animals
Potential Employers: Zoos, Circuses, Towns, Amusement Parks, Hollywood
Pay: Averages $26,500 per year
National Elephant Institute
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Thai Elephant Conservation Center
American Zoological Association
Elephant Managers Association
Exotic Animal Training School
International Elephant Foundation
Association of Zoos and Aquariums