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Taiwanese zookeepers caring for hazardous animals to get extra pay

Monthly premiums vary based on level of danger posed by animals

A Formosan black bear at Taipei Zoo. (Facebook, Taipei Zoo photo)

A Formosan black bear at Taipei Zoo. (Facebook, Taipei Zoo photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Starting Jan. 1, public zoo employees in Taiwan will receive an additional allowance to compensate for the risks associated with caring for animals.

The Cabinet has approved a proposal to increase remuneration for zookeepers, acknowledging the potential hazards they face during their work. The goal of this initiative is to enhance the welfare of wildlife protection workers, CNA cited officials as saying.

This decision follows complaints from Taipei Zoo workers, highlighting a three-decade freeze on monthly salaries, capped at less than NT$40,000 (US$1,272). Taipei Zoo subsequently introduced a compensation plan.

The updated payment structure will apply to employees at zoos and some agricultural institutions, including Taipei Zoo, Hsinchu Zoo, and Shou Shan Zoo in Kaohsiung. Monthly premiums will vary based on the perceived level of danger posed by the animals under their care.

Caregivers responsible for the first-tier group, such as large or potentially aggressive animals, will receive an additional NT$5,000. This category includes elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, tigers, leopards, lions, bears, pandas, poisonous snakes, and cranes.

For the second and third tiers of work, there will be a pay increase ranging from NT$3,000 to NT$4,000. These roles include caring for animals that pose a lower risk, providing veterinary and quarantine services, training and restraining the animals, and undertaking other maintenance-related tasks.