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Animal Care Curator - Crossroads of Conservation

The Living Desert is seeking an exceptional candidate to join our Animal Care Team as an Animal Care Curator. This is a key, visible leadership position that requires a motivated, dedicated team player. This position requires an enthusiastic individual with strong guest engagement skills, decision making skills and leadership qualities while demonstrating ability to work effectively with all levels of staff. The Animal Care Curator team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.” The Curator team will help the Zoo achieve a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture.

This position oversees a specific portion of the animal collection, specifically Crossroads of Conservation, phase two of a multi-million state of the art, exciting, brand new multi-species habitat. This new 2.5-acre space will include black rhino, hoofstock, birds, and small carnivores. This position will be a key role in the oversight of the animals, habitats, behind the scenes areas, guest engagement activities and overall management strategies of the collection and team. Develops short and long-term goals and strategies, makes recommendations to Zoo administration regarding collection, habitats, diets, design, construction, presentations, and relevance to overall Zoo objectives including conservation and mission. This position will ensure the highest quality of wellbeing and care for the animals.

Click here to get a glimpse of this new, exciting addition to the zoo:


The expectation of this position is to demonstrate exceptional leadership skills which include being a model and an example for others to follow, inspiring others to work towards an exciting future and shared vision, challenging self and others to look for innovative ways to improve area and Zoo, foster collaboration, trust and team building. Working with the Director of Animal Care to create and continue a culture of recognizing contributions and celebrating accomplishments. This person will lead the area team in delivering uncompromising excellence in animal care, wellness, and guest engagement.


Position Summary:

Reports to Director of Animal Care. This position supports in the oversight of the development and implementation of the management strategies for this new mixed species habitat. Manages the daily work and husbandry activities of the Animal Care staff and animals of Crossroads of Conservation. Develops short term and long-term goals and strategies, makes recommendations to Zoo administration regarding collection, habitats, design, construction, presentation, and relevance to overall Zoo objectives including conservation and mission.


Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:

· Supervises and provides direction to Animal Care keepers in all aspects of daily operations. This Curator will be working in the field as this new area is built, as animals acquisitioned caring for animals and introduced to area.

· Promotes and enforces organization and department guidelines, policies, and standards.

· Effectively and efficiently supports animal training for husbandry purposes using operant conditioning techniques, positive reinforcement and building resiliency, responsible for tracking behavioral husbandry consistency and progress.

· Selects, trains, evaluates and manages Animal Care team. Ensures on the job training and development of area keepers. Produces annual evaluation appraisals for area Animal Care team.

· Supervises and/or assists with animal husbandry as needed.

· Monitors daily reports and takes appropriate action to maintain the condition of habitats, service areas and holding areas. Investigates/addresses management issues as necessary. Identifies repair needs and follows through with repair process.

· Oversees/approves scheduling of area animal team. Oversees other areas as necessary in absence of other Animal Care Curators.

· Acts as primary contact for other Zoo departments, including representing zoo for media events, donors, and guests.

· Coordinates with Veterinary Care Services to ensure consistency of animal care and assists with medical or management procedures as necessary.

· Gathers budget information, collaborates and submits first draft budget to Director of Animal Care.

· Takes a leadership role for emergency situations by acting as Animal Emergency Team Lead and become a certified member of Emergency Weapons Team.

· Monitors habitats and holding units to ensure animal and keeper safety, USDA compliance, AZA standards and ensures in good appearance for viewing at all times.

· Ensure compliance of safety policies, procedures, and practices; ensures staff work in a safe manner with appropriate protective equipment, all accidents/incidents are investigated, documented and corrective action is taken.

· Supports and implements training development of staff that includes behavioral husbandry, enrichment, operant conditioning and positive reinforcement techniques.

· Develops and incorporates conservation messaging into guest’s engagement activities.


Minimum Qualifications:

· Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science, or other related degree with at least three years of animal care experience.

· Knowledge and experience in management preferred, including programmatic planning, budgeting, and supervision with at least two years supervisory experience.

· Highly professional, motivated, forward thinking individual who will build positive working relationships while demonstrating sensitivity to the “mission” of the Zoo.

· Knowledge/familiarity with AZA accreditation standards, code of ethics and representative husbandry standards. Familiar with AZA and other in human care population management programs.

· Ability to effectively communicate with all staff levels, Board, senior and middle management, staff, donors, volunteers, and guests.

· Analytical, interpersonal, public relations, presentation, and communication skills both verbal and written.

· Valid California driver’s license.

· Must be insurable on The Living Desert’s automobile insurance.


Working Conditions:

· Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting (up to 50#)

· Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, and dust/airborne materials.

· Works with potentially dangerous animals (large ungulates, carnivores, venomous snakes)

· Holiday, evening, weekend work required. Available on as needed basis for emergencies and events.

· Travel opportunities for conferences, workshops and/or conservation projects as appropriate. Some or all expenses paid.


To apply for this position: Qualified applicants must send resume, three (3) references and cover letter to RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care 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. Deadline for submissions: Friday, October 31, 2020 at 5pm (pst)

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