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Veterinary Technician/Hospital Supervisor

Job Title: Veterinary Technician/Hospital Supervisor
Department:Veterinary Services
Division: Animal
Level of Authority:
Reports to:    Veterinarians 
Supervises:   Hospital Keeper staff, interns, externs, volunteers

The Veterinary Technician/Hospital Supervisor assists in the overall administration and management of the animal health program and zoo vet hospital.  This person works closely with the Veterinarians to ensure the utmost animal welfare and overall appropriate medical care of The Living Desert’s animals.  This person is the primary Veterinary Technician who is a formally trained specialist responsible for assisting the Veterinarian in medical procedures, performing laboratory tests and maintaining records.  

This is a key, visible leadership position that requires a motivated, energetic, dedicated team player who is willing to make a significant contribution to the organization.  This requires an enthusiastic individual with strong medical, decision making and leadership skills while demonstrating ability to work effectively with all levels of staff.  This person must have the ability to make good decisions regarding the welfare of animals, staff and guests.   

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.  

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. 

Primary Duties and Responsibilities: 

Hospital Senior Keeper- 

  • Deliver uncompromising excellence in animal care, welfare and guest engagement 
  • Liaison between Curators and Animal Care staff as needed.  Is honest and forthcoming to Animal Care with information regarding accomplishments, issues and challenges 
  • Maintain open communications with Animal Care and Veterinary Services 
  • Observe and report on all assigned animals to Animal Care and Veterinarians 
  • Ensure all hospital equipment is clean and functional, ready for an emergency at all times 
  • Maintain emergency equipment and supplies (including emergency medications) ready at all times 
  • Schedule routine equipment maintenance and repairs, as needed 
  • Schedule preventive medical and other procedures and ensure communication to all appropriate parties 
  • Maintain drug inventory, with oversight from Veterinarian. Remove all expired medications from drug inventory on a monthly basis.  Inform Hospital Manager for ordering medications as needed to maintain inventory. 
  • Ensure controlled drugs are properly inventoried and drug use is logged 
  • Effectively work with Animal Care staff and be fully acquainted with entire animal collection, staff and facilities.  Actively participate in discussions of how to move the Animal Care / Veterinary Department and TLD forward. 
  • Maintain preventive medicine schedules including but not limited to examination schedule, parasitology / anthelmintics, beak / nail trims, vaccinations, and contraception 
  • Maintain timely and accurate medical records in ZIMS and other systems as required  
  • Document and file SDS sheets for all chemicals used by Veterinary Services  
  • Coordinate with Animal Care staff to implement operant conditioning for veterinary procedures, such as voluntary injections and venipuncture  
  • Maintain a safe and productive workplace for animals, guests and staff 
  • Provide mentorship and feedback to veterinary students  
  • Provide assistance to other departments as needed 
  • Other related responsibilities as necessary to accomplish department objectives 

Head Veterinary Technician Primary- 

  • Recognize normal physiological behavior of animal species in the park; administer treatments to animals per Veterinarians.  Provide input regarding success of and/or challenges of treatments to Veterinarians. 
  • Evaluate the health status of an animal and contact Veterinarian if needed. Treat animals in shock or cardiac arrest until veterinarian arrives 
  • Set up and clean up for procedures 
  • Perform standard Veterinary Technician skills during exams and procedures, including but not limited to vital sign monitoring/recording, anesthesia, venipuncture, treatments 
  • Process and send laboratory samples, including research into novel laboratories 
  • Assist Veterinarians with diagnostic testing and treatments 
  • Ensure regular back-ups of medical records system 
  • Under the direction of Veterinarian, administer some aspects of the Preventive Health Program 
  • Perform routine preparation and sterilization of surgical instruments and other equipment   
  • Perform basic restraint of smaller animals for examination by Veterinarians  
  • Position animals for radiographs, using standard radiation safety practices 
  • Maintain radiology log 
  • Perform laboratory work, as needed, including: fecal centrifugation technique, CBC, biochemistries, urinalysis 
  • Maintain emergency equipment and supplies (including emergency medications) ready at all times 
  • Evaluate and triage rehabilitation animals in the absence of a Veterinarian 
  • Emergency situations- able to remain calm, give and receive instructions succinctly, prepare animal for Veterinarian, stabilize animal (including tranquilization, transport, emergency treatments) 
  • Provide husbandry care for hospital and quarantine animals as needed 
  • Assist with necropsy procedures 
  • Ensure necropsy room is clean and adequately stocked at all times 
  • Maintain necropsy log, ensure timely disposal of carcasses 

Specific skills: 

  • General knowledge of zoo animal husbandry 
  • Excellent observational skills, active listening and strong organizational skills 
  • Knowledge of contemporary practice standards of zoo veterinary care particularly as established by the AAZV and as practiced in AZA accredited institutions 
  • Familiar with the State of California’s regulations and standards that apply to the practice of veterinary medicine in California 
  • Knowledge of zoonotic disease that may affect the collection animals, personnel and guests  
  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals 
  • Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others and animal 
  • Ability to enter accurately medical and husbandry daily reports using ZIMS  
  • Ability to give and comprehend written and oral instructions, and to accurately carry out those instructions 
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely both orally and in writing  
  • Excellent communication skills for effective and engaging talks, lectures and tours as required  
  • Motivated self-starter who needs minimal supervision and is able to work well in a team setting 
  • Proven supervisory, interpersonal, communication and leadership skills 
  • Software literate in Microsoft Access, Word, Excel. ZIMS knowledge is a plus. 
  • Ability to form professional networking relationships with other institutions and companies 
  • Ability to make independent decisions in accordance with established policies and procedures 
  • Must be a motivated self-starter who needs minimal supervision and be able to work with others as a team. 
  • Must have proven supervisory, interpersonal, communication and leadership skills. 
  • Able to interact with guests courteously and effectively while representing The Living Desert at the highest standard of professionalism 
  • Able to establish and maintain effective and professional working relationships with coworkers and do so in accordance with The Living Desert handbook 


  • Prefer AA or AS or higher degree.   
  • Require current registration with the State of California as a Veterinary Technician.   
  • Prefer exotic or zoo animal experience but will substitute experience with domestic animal practice that provides the required knowledge, skill and abilities.  
  • 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, X-ray machine, X-ray processor, autoclave, anesthesia machine, pulse oximeter, ECG machine, I-STAT, dental unit, miscellaneous medical equipment, pepper spray (Counter Bear Assault 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, wire cutters, etc. 

Conditions of Work: 

PHYSICAL EFFORT: Occasional standing, walking, bending, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions and frequent sitting. Some lifting up to 50#. 

DISCOMFORT/RISK:  Occasional exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, radiation and dust/airborne materials.  Works with potentially dangerous animals (i.e. large ungulates, carnivores, venomous animals).  Works with potentially dangerous drugs and x-ray equipment. 

HOLIDAY WORK:  Holiday and weekend work may be required. 

TRAVEL: Continuing education conferences and workshops, as required to maintain licensing.  

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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