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Associate Veterinarian

Job Title: Associate Veterinarian
Division: Animal
Department: Veterinarian Services
Days off: To be determined
Exemption: Exempt
Level of Authority:
Reports to: Head Staff Veterinarian
Supervises: Relief Veterinarians, Veterinary Technician, Hospital/Quarantine keepers, students, volunteers

Position Summary:

The Associate Veterinarian is a primarily clinical position, to provide veterinary medical care to the animals in the Living Desert’s collection.

In conjunction with the Head Veterinarian, the Associate Veterinarian will maintain a professional veterinary medical program for The Living Desert’s animal collection, that meets or exceeds contemporary practice standards of zoo veterinary care as outlined by the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and is consistent with accreditation standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Veterinary Services Team is considered the primary animal health team for The Living Desert animal collection and Rehabilitation facility.

* The Veterinary Services Team endeavors to practice state of the art veterinary medicine and maintain high standards of veterinary professionalism.

* The Veterinary Services Team must have great enthusiasm for the profession of zoological medicine.

* The Veterinary Services Team must adhere to the highest animal welfare standards, and utilize these in a team-oriented work style.

* The Veterinary Services Team performs all job assignments with a positive attitude that will move The Living Desert forward into the future.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Animal health care includes but is not limited to diet/nutrition plans, preventive medicine, wildlife rehabilitation, surgery, necropsy, quarantine, pest control and emergency care.
  • The veterinary program emphasizes disease prevention, quarantine, parasite surveillance procedures and control, immunization, infectious disease screening and dental prophylaxis utilizing a risk/benefits analysis process.
  • Assess, diagnose, apply surgery skills and treat illness/injury for broad taxonomic groups of animals
  • Provide diagnostic laboratory services in house using outside resources on an as needed basis. This includes but is not limited to routine bloodwork, urinalysis, necropsy, radiograph interpretation
  • Euthanize in accordance with the most current TLD guidelines consistent with the AAZV’s Guidelines for Euthanasia of Non-domestic Animals and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Panel on Euthanasia
  • Maintain complete and accurate medical records for all animals in the TLD collection
  • Participate in the Emergency Immobilization Team and maintain the hospital and zoo darting supplies, equipment, and inventory of immobilization drugs.
  • Together with the Head Veterinarian, train the Emergency Immobilization Team and conduct practices and drills.
  • Effectively work with Animal Care staff and be fully acquainted with entire animal collection, staff and facilities
  • Understand AZA and AAZV standards and strive to meet or exceed current standards for zoo animal care and well-being
  • Participate in field conservation-oriented, educational and promotional programs, as these opportunities arise
  • Interact with guests and media to promote educational/conservation aspects of the zoo
  • Collaborate with other departments and state/federal agencies on a cooperative basis for mutual goals
  • Compose and give lectures, tours and other educational experiences to the staff, Board, public, keepers, and students
  • Provide a safe and productive working environment
  • Perform additional duties as assigned
  • Specific skills:

    • Knowledge of contemporary practice standards of zoo veterinary care particularly as established by the AAZV and as practiced in AZA accredited institutions
    • Knowledge of the State of California’s regulations and standards that apply to the practice of veterinary medicine in California
    • Knowledge of zoonotic diseases that may affect the collection animals, personnel and guests
    • In depth knowledge of zoo animal husbandry, including the ability to work with potentially dangerous animals
    • Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others, and animals
    • Ability to make independent, goal-oriented decisions, in accordance with established policies and procedures, regarding the well-being of animals & guests
    • Software literate in Microsoft Access, Word, Excel, ZIMS
    • Strong communication interpersonal skills for effective working relationships with all Zoo staff both orally and written
    • Ability to supervise and train veterinary technicians, hospital keeper staff, students, and volunteers
    • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely both orally and in writing
    • Strong observation and active listening skills with the ability to accurately carry out instructions
    • Assure that all actions with animals are legally compliant, and meet professional and ethical standards
    • Ability to form professional networking relationships with other institutions and companies
    • Ability to work at a fast pace while maintaining attention to detail and remaining calm in stressful situations
    • Must be a motivated self-starter who is able to work independently, as well as be an effective team member


    DVM or VMD or equivalent from an accredited School of Veterinary Medicine

    Two years minimum of exotic animal medicine experience, preferably in a zoological facility

    License to practice veterinary medicine in State of California within 3 months of hire date

    Obtain DEA license to use Class 2 narcotics

    Obtain USDA National Veterinary Accreditation Category II Accreditation within 3 months of hire date

    Obtain a valid State of California driver’s license. Must be insurable on The Living Desert automobile insurance.

    Equipment Used: PC computer, general office equipment, telephone, radio, electric cart, vehicles, anesthesia machine, x-ray machine, dental equipment, sterilization units, monitoring equipment, surgical instruments, ultrasound equipment, drug delivery systems, laboratory and diagnostic equipment.

    Physical position Description:

    Essential Physical Tasks: Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting (up to 50lbs.).

    Typical Working Conditions: Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, and dust/airborne materials. Works with potentially dangerous animals (large ungulates, carnivores, venomous animals).

    Holiday Work: Holiday, Evening and weekend work required. Available on as needed basis for emergencies.

    Travel: Continuing education conferences and workshops, as required to maintain licensing. Other meetings and travel may be required and/or available.

    This class specification should not be interpreted as all inclusive. It is intended to identify the major responsibilities and requirements of this job. The incumbents may be requested to perform job-related responsibilities and tasks other than those stated in this specification.

    To apply for this position: Qualified applicants must send resume, three (3) references and cover letter to Dr. Andrea Goodnight, Head Veterinarian at Cover letter should include how you will be key in moving the Animal Department forward and how you will move The Living Desert mission forward.

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