What is Zoology?

Article Details
  • Originally Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Revised By: Geisha A. Legazpi
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Images By: Andrewburgess, Friedberg, Kabacchi, Hitdelight, Fotomicar, Luna Vandoorne, Nickolae, Alexey Kuznetsov
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Horses are responsible for more human deaths in Australia than all of the nation's venomous creatures put together.  more...

December 8 ,  1965 :  Pope Paul VI promulgated Vatican II into ecumenical law.  more...

Zoology is the scientific study of the characteristics and classification of animals. It is one of the branches of biology, and therefore it is also referred to as animal biology. There are several sub-branches within this field, including ethology, zoography, and anthrozoology. Additionally, zoologists often specialize in the study of specific types of animals. For instance, an ornithologist studies birds, while a mammologist studies mammals. As zoology is a very interdisciplinary subject, there are a number of related fields, including taxonomy, paleontology, and evolutionary biology.


Common sub-branches of zoology include zoography, ethology, paleozoology, and anthrozoology. Zoography is the description of animals and the environments in which they live. These descriptions are often extremely detailed, and may also include information about the animal's behavior or eating habits. A related subfield is ethology, which is the study of animal behavior. Ethologists tend to focus more on behavior characteristics rather than specific types of animals, and may study many different species. Common behaviors studied include imprinting, aggression, emotion, and communication.


Another sub-branch is paleozoology, which is the study of animals that have been declared extinct. This includes animals like dinosaurs, but also things like certain fish and insects that have closer counterparts in modern times. The findings from this type of research are used to understand the physiology and behavior of extinct animals, but also for gaining insight into modern animal that descended from extinct ones. Cryptozoology, another subfield, attempts to reveal the existence of animals that are only rumored to exist, such as the Loch Ness monster and yeti. Cryptozoologists, however, may also do field studies if an animal declared extinct previously has been rediscovered.

Some zoologists choose to focus on the study of how humans and animals interact. This is called anthrozoology, and can include the study of how animals were domesticated, how humans think about animals, and the bonds formed between humans and animals. It's often connected with studies of animal rights, ethology, and psychology. Other researchers in anthrozoology focus on veterinary medicine, or on how animals can be used in therapy for humans.

Related Fields

One of the most closely related fields to zoology is taxonomy, which is the practice of classifying different types of organisms according to shared characteristics. There are specific organizational structures that animals are put into, usually starting with superfamilies, and ending with subspecies. This field is also related to systematics, in which zoologists classify animals based on their genus or species.

Another related field is evolutionary biology. When done in the context of zoology, this field entails studying how animals originally evolved and how they changed over time. This is often closely connected with paleozoology. Ecology and environmental studies are also related subjects, particularly zoography and ethology.

Working as a Zoologist

Some universities offer a bachelor’s degree program in zoology, but people can also become zoologists through graduate work. Generally speaking, a person needs to have a bachelor's degree in a field like biology or chemistry before applying for graduate studies in this area. The area a zoologist specializes in often determines his or her work environment. Zoologists can and do work in zoos, but they can also conduct field research and laboratory research. They can also make plans for pest control or raising livestock, or provide insight into the best way to deal with an invasive species or clean up an ecosystem. Some zoologists also work as teachers or guides, educating people in zoos or other places about animals and their living environments.


Ancient Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations had medical knowledge about animals, but most early zoological studies were mystical rather than practical. The Greek physician Hippocrates and the philosopher Aristotle were both involved with early zoology. Hippocrates primarily focused on the physiology of animals, while Aristotle shaped the four pillars of zoology: anatomy, taxonomy, genetics, and physiology. Other prominent figures include the British field biologist Charles Darwin, whose works led to the increased understanding of the interrelationship between humans and animals, and Thomas Henry Huxley, an anatomist who is best known for as a proponent of Darwin's theory of evolution as well as his research into ape and human ethology.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 28

How many types of zoologists are there in the entire world?

Post 27

Is a zoologist the same basic thing as a veterinarian? I have wanted to be a vet for years, but now I have an interest in zoology.

Post 25

Are there many jobs available in this field in America?

Post 24

Is there any future in zoology? That means a job with a good salary.

Post 22

Do zoology people work with,like, lion cubs?

Post 21

So, say I wanted to be a Zoologist, but I only wanted to work with, say, dolphins? What exactly would I be doing? Studying them? Studying their cells? Please reply!

Post 15

does a zoologist take care of the animals, like when they are sick? I want to be a zoologist but i also want to take care of animals.

Post 14

when was zoology discovered? I'm a freshman doing an assignment on zoology.

Post 13

who would pay for you to actually study zoology and I think you should be explaining the depth of zoology more!

Post 12

If I cut something in half and both sides look exactly alike, what do you call it?

Post 10

what is the importance of zoology?

Post 9

what are the other sciences related to zoology?

Post 8

can you please write some important discoveries that have helped mankind because i just don't think that you are explaining zoology enough.

Post 6

does zoology have a lot of travel opprotunties

Post 5

Can a zoologist only work with dolphins, as a dolphin trainer and care?

Post 4

What other organizations depend on zoology?

What are the skills shortages and skills surplus in zoology?

Post 3

Vet Medicine is the equivalent of being a human doctor. they diagnose, treat, prevent, perform surgeries...etc. starting salaries are in the 6 digit range. it can take up to 8 years of schooling, if you get into a vet program (only 28 schools in america have a vet program, i suggest looking at Texas A&M)

Zoology is the study of animals. you can become specialized in a certain field or classification.

Besides dealing with animals, vet med and zoology go off onto different paths

Post 2

What is the differences between Veterinary Medicine and Zoology? Which would be better to go to school for?

Moderator's reply: our article, how can i become a veterinarian? has more information on the subject.

Post 1

what are the job opportunities for the zoologist generally, or in a country like nigeria?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?