|MadSci Network: Zoology|
As a zoologist, I think your plan is great! I couldn't imagine a job I'd like more. There are all kinds of things to do with a background in zoology, so I have some general recommendations and some specific resources that might help you with your plans.
No matter what, get a solid background in science. This will give you more options, in case you're like me and change your mind fairly often. When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor or a marine biologist. By taking lots of general biology, chemistry, microbiology, ecology, and humanities classes, I learned that what I love most is conservation biology. I wanted to be sure that whatever I chose to do would relate directly to animals. That leaves me with a whole bunch of options.
I am currently a conservation biologist with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, where I work with advisory groups on planning the future collections of captive animals. We also contribute to field conservation work where our zoo and aquarium animals occur naturally. I get to work with people and with animals, and use all the skills I learned in school. I have also worked as a science writer and a conservation educator, all related to biology and habitat and animal conservation.
I would recommend looking into projects both at home and in Africa, so you can get some 'real life' experience with the animals themselves. There are all kinds of study programs through colleges and individual researchers. This sort of experience will show you what it's like to really work directly with animals, and research closer to home will help you learn the basics of experimental design and the details of research. I've worked with sea turtles on beaches in Costa Rica and with plants in a lab in Arizona, and all my background has helped me clarify my strengths and weaknesses, and has helped me figure out what I like best about biology.
The web is a great resource for career-related information. You can get lost for days in all the pages dedicated to various occupations.
Here are some zoo and aquarium-based resources:
Jump in and see what makes your heart race!
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Zoology.