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Senior Animal Keeper

Position Summary:

The Area Senior Keeper is an energetic, front line supervisory position responsible for assisting the Area Animal Care Manager in managing area staff and the area animal collection.  This position is responsible within  a specified area of the zoo to provide the highest quality daily care, husbandry and behavioral management of a defined portion of The Living Desert’s animal collections, and is responsible for the daily care of assigned animal exhibits and other associated animal facilities.

This position also performs the functions of Animal Keeper and able to follow instructions from Animal management. Senior Animal Keeper must demonstrate significant knowledge of husbandry practices, be able to lead and mentor staff in the performances of these practices. Must demonstrate strong leadership skills which include being a role model and an example to others while working towards an improved future and shared vision within TLD and the Animal team.

This person must have the ability to make good decisions regarding the welfare of animals, staff and guests.  This person will support the Zoo in our mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation” and will help the Zoo achieve a forward thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture.

Specific Senior Animal Keeper Tasks, Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Deliver uncompromising excellence in animal care, welfare and guest engagement
  • Liaison between management and keeper staff as needed. Is honest and forthcoming to Animal management with information regarding accomplishments, issues and challenges
  • Observation and reporting on all assigned animals to Animal Management
  • Provide mentorship to animal keeper staff
  • Dietary observations with a knowledge of nutritional requirements for assigned species
  • Natural behaviors knowledge of assigned species
  • Participate in amending and updating standard operating procedures and protocols in a timely manner
  • Training staff on area SOP’s, ensuring training protocols of staff and animal are being followed
  • Develop and initiate engaging animal programs and interaction with guests of all ages
  • Provide leadership in emergency situations while remaining calm
  • Supervise and provide direction to Animal Keepers in absence of Animal Care Manager
  • Assist Animal Care Manager as needed in support of area tasks/projects including but not limited to: ordering of supplies, animal procedures, animal programs, scheduling and communication to other TLD staff
  • Assist and implement breeding protocols, diet revisions, exhibit designs and exhibit maintenance
  • Assess on a regular basis assigned animals’ level of performance to ensure a set number of animals for programs, as determined by Animal Care Management
  • Assist in acquisition/de-acquisition of animal collection by training, capture, restraining, crating of animal, loading, transportation and shipment.
  • Train, assist and supervise work of volunteers/interns and ensure their safety while performing these duties, under direction of Animal Care Management.
  • Ensure assigned areas and holding units, are in good appearance paying attention to detail for guest viewing at all times and animal, keeper and guest safety

General Skills:

  • All duties of a general animal keeper.
  • General knowledge of zoo animal husbandry and observational skills.
  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals.
  • Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others, and animal.
  • Ability to remain calm and professional in the event of an unpredictable situation and follow through until situation is over.
  • Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner, and act accordingly at all times.
  • Ability to speak in public and give animal presentations to public both informally and formally.
  • Ability to enter accurately animal daily reports using in house computer program and be knowledgeable with ZIMS
  • Must have strong organizational, observational and listening skills.
  • Ability to give and comprehend written and oral instructions, to accurately carry out such instructions and record observation intelligently.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally, in writing and present to a variety of groups.
  • Must be a motivated self-starter who needs minimal supervision as well as ability to work in a team setting.
  • Other duties, as assigned.


  • AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree and at least three years of exotic animal experience. Bachelor degree preferred.
  • Experience with animal training and public presentations a plus.
  • Will substitute training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skill, and abilities. Generally, one year of full time exotic animal experience will translate to one year of college.
  • Valid California driver license.
  • Must be insurable on The Living Desert’s automobile policy.

Equipment Used:
PC computer, general office equipment, telephone, radio, electric and gas cart, vehicles including medium to heavy equipment such as bobcat, tractor, pepper spray (Counter Assault Bear Deterrent),rake, shovel, wheel barrow, catch pole, capture net, baffle board, snake hook, weight scale, garden hose, small hand held and power tools such as hammer, screwdriver, drill, wire cutters etc.

Working Conditions:
ESSENTIAL PHYSICAL TASKS: Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting up to 50lbs.
TYPICALWORKING CONDITIONS: Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, and dust/airborne materials. Work with potentially dangerous animals (i.e. large ungulates, carnivores, venomous animals).
HOLIDAY WORK: Holiday and weekend work required.
TRAVEL: Occasional conference and workshop attendance available, if funding available. Some or all expenses paid.

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.

Please email your resume to:

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