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An animal researcher is a fairly broad job description, as there are many specialties in the field of animal research. This can involve everything from an animal physiologist, who may perform testing on animals to study the effects of certain drugs, to a zoologist or biologist, studying animal behavior and researching various types of animals in-depth. The type of career or educational path an animal researcher chooses largely depends on his or her interests and career goals, and the body of work that he or she wishes to contribute. Animal testing, for example, is a controversial job to which many animal lovers are morally opposed, so it would naturally not make a logical career choice for someone who shares these values.
Generally, an animal physiologist is this type of animal researcher who performs animal testing. This might involve testing certain prescription drugs on animals, whether they are for human or animal use, as well as testing other products. A physiologist might also be working to learn if new food formulations from animal feed companies are providing sufficient nutrition for the animals as well. The term "animal researcher" does not commonly refer to an animal physiologist, however.
There are many other types of animal researcher jobs, with a completely different focus, include animal biologists and zoologists, as well as research veterinarians. Biologists and zoologists study the behavior of virtually all types of animals, such as breeding and mating habits or migration habits, for example. They look for changes and patterns over time, and often use this data to suggest various conservation efforts to preserve ecosystems or protect threatened species. A research veterinarian might work for a college or university, and strive to study improved ways to treat animals, such as to cure animal diseases or develop better surgical techniques.
Yet another type of animal researcher is an animal scientist, though this type of researcher studies domestic farm or agricultural animals. This type of researcher is largely tasked with studying genetics and development of these animals to make them more effective breeders, and to improve meat/dairy/egg production, depending on the animal. They may work to try to breed animals with certain characteristics that make them more desirable for production or to survive in certain living conditions. They might conduct research to see how changes in the conditions under which animals are kept affects their behavior or physiology. Ultimately, it is up to the animal researcher to determine the type of work he or she wants to do, and whether to work for the ultimate benefit of the animals or the benefit of people.
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