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Wage watchers: how much does a zookeeper earn?
Zookeeper Karen Rogiers, 46, from Deurne talks about what she earns and how she spends it
What do you do for a living?
I’m a zookeeper at Antwerp zoo, where I look after the birds. Our six-strong team is in charge of 650 birds. The zoo receives many job applications, but many people have the wrong idea of the work involved, mostly because of television documentaries about zoos. In those programmes you get the impression that the job is all about pampering animals, but in fact a lot of it is basically cleaning up. It's physically demanding at times.
Do you enjoy your work?
In the beginning I wanted to work with dolphins. But they put me in charge of birds and I never left. After 25 years I still find it as captivating as when I started. There are lots and lots of different birds and you must be very inventive. When you think you know everything, they start doing something completely different.
What do you think of your salary?
I take home between €1,500 and €1,600, depending on the number of Sunday shifts I do. I have quite a few perks too: hospital insurance for the whole family, a family pass for the zoo, free public transport, an Antwerp tourist pass and a discount at the zoo restaurant. I also have 44 days’ paid holiday every year. It is a pretty unique job.
What does the biggest chunk of your salary go towards?
Rent, which is €400, and my three children’s studies.
What do you gladly pay for?
We go to Mallorca once a year. And I couldn’t live without our bungalow in Schoten: it’s absolutely ideal for going on holiday with the children. They just love running around in the woods.