The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild.


Assistant Animal Care Curator - Rhino Savanna

The Living Desert is seeking qualified candidates to join our Animal Care Leadership Team as Assistant Animal Care Curators.  These are newly created key, visible leadership positions that require motivated, dedicated team players who are willing to make a significant commitment to the organization. We are looking for enthusiastic individuals with strong organizational, decision making and task management skills who can demonstrate the ability to work effectively with all levels of staff in a consistently changing environment. These Assistant Animal Care Curators are part of the management team and salaried, exempt positions. 

The Animal Care team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.” The Assistant Animal Care Curators will help the Zoo achieve a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture.  These leaders must have the ability to make good decisions regarding the well-being of the animals, staff and guests while working for the greater good of the zoo. These individuals must be cooperative and collaborative team members with a great guest service attitude.

Successful candidates will be organized, detail oriented and able to work in a constantly changing atmosphere. Assistant Animal Care Curators must demonstrate significant knowledge of husbandry practices, be able to lead and mentor staff in the performances of these practices, 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 The Living Desert and the Animal Care team.

Position Summary:
Reports to Animal Care Curators. This position will be considered part of the Animal Care leadership and management team. 

The following are a brief description of each area for consideration:

Rhino Savanna 
This position oversees animals in a multi-species habitat with a breeding pair of black rhino, small/large antelope, naked mole rat colonies, mongoose, and a variety of birds. This dynamic habitat uses a combination of modern land management concepts paired with traditional management approaches designed to promote optimal animal welfare and heightened guest experience including training for rhino guest interactions.  

Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:
• Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner, and act as a role model at all times 
• As part of the Animal Care management, leadership team will provide ongoing, daily support of the animal care keepers including providing counseling, discipline and recognition of accomplishments
• Provides and encourages a feedback rich environment with information regarding accomplishments, updates, and challenges.
• Provide mentorship to animal care keeper team
• Responsible for maintaining AZA/USDA standards of each animal area 
• General knowledge of zoo animal husbandry and observational skills.
• Excellent guests service and communication skills for effective & engaging public speaking; Ability to provide knowledgeable and engaging tour/talks for guests, staff and donors.
• Assist with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enriching experiences of animal residents 
• Contribute and maintain a safe, positive and productive workplace environment for animals, guests and staff.
• Able to establish and maintain effective and professional working relations with co-workers and other department personnel, and to do so in accordance with The Living Desert Employee Handbook.
• Assist Animal Care Curator as needed in support of area tasks/projects including but not limited to: ordering of supplies, animal procedures, animal programs, scheduling, counseling, accountability and communication to other The Living Desert staff 
• Implement breeding protocols, diet revisions, habitat designs and habitat maintenance
• Motivated, self-starter who can work with minimal supervision.  Should also be able to work with others in a team setting. 
• Ability to use critical thinking skills to trouble shoot issues and reveal solutions to move the animal team forward
• Ability to remain calm under pressure and remain levelheaded in emergency situations 
• Attend and participate in staff meetings to discuss the needs of the animal residents and animal team, resolve issues, and help create new procedures and policies 
• Embraces the LEAN process program and moves the department in a more efficient direction

Minimum Qualifications:
• AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree and at least two years of exotic animal experience. Bachelor degree preferred.
• Experience with supervisory and/or management 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 or eligible to attain. Must be insurable on The Living Desert's automobile policy. 

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: Please visit the Living Desert’s website to fill out an online application at for the position(s) of interest. Qualified applicants must submit a cover letter, resume, and three (3) references. The cover letter should be compelling and include how you will be key in moving the Animal Care Department and The Living Desert mission forward. The position will remain open until filled.

Wage range: $64,480-$66,144 

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