Animal Care Keeper
Job Title: Animal Care Keeper
Level of Authority:
Reports to: Animal Care Curator, Animal Care Supervisor
Supervises: Volunteers, Interns
The Animal Care Keeper is an energetic front-line staff position responsible within a routine to provide the highest quality daily care, husbandry and behavioral management of a defined portion of The Living Desert’s (TLD) animal collections, and is responsible for the daily care of assigned animal habitats and other associated animal facilities.
The Animal Care team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.” The team will help the Zoo achieve a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture.
A TLD animal care keeper is an example to others while working towards an improved future and shared vision within TLD. This position educates, engages and provides exemplary guest service experiences for all Zoo guests through various programs, activities and continuous guest interaction as outlined by Animal management. Each Animal Care Keeper is encouraged to lead from where they are, bring innovative ideas forward and provide a high level of well-being for each individual.
This person must have the ability to make good decisions regarding the welfare of animals, staff and guests while working for the greater good of the zoo. 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. This person must be a cooperative and collaborative team member with a great guest service attitude.
Americas Area Animal Care Keeper
The Americas keeper oversees a diverse range of animals in the Americas area which includes small and large carnivores (African and from the Americas regions), a variety of avian species including birds of prey, our Small Carnivore Breeding Center, Australian species, and a variety of reptiles (including venomous). This keeper who works in this area is skilled in, or open to, learning operant conditioning of animals including for guest connections in a dynamic and modern approach. Specifically, this keeper will be directly learning the care and wellness of: cougar, foxes, caracal, Mexican gray wolf, Chacoan peccary, meerkat, fennec fox, and a variety of multi-species North American and African Aviaries.
Job description is a summary of the typical duties of the role, not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks and duties.
Animal Care Keeper Tasks, Duties & Responsibilities:
- Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner, and act accordingly at all times
- General knowledge of zoo animal husbandry, natural history and observational skills
- 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
- Keep accurate and detailed records of daily observations of area collection animals containing information regarding behavior, diet intake, fecal output, behavior, health, weight, breeding, aggression, behavioral enrichment, capture/restraint, prescribed medical treatments in-house
- Attend and participate in staff meetings to discuss the needs of the animal collection and animal staff, resolve challenges, and learn new procedures and policies
- Familiar with USDA and AZA regulations and comply with them
- Contribute and maintain a safe, positive and productive workplace environment for animals, guests and staff
- Provides assistance to other departments as needed
- Other related responsibilities as necessary to accomplish department objectives
- Perform cleaning and maintenance of assigned habitats and make minor repairs when needed
- Diet/meal preparation, feeding and restocking of feed supplies as needed and as prescribed
- Daily observation of animal collection for injury, illness, aggression, stress, breeding activity, diet intake and fecal consistency
- Daily cleaning of animal enclosures, service areas, holding units, and support areas utilizing various tools, instruments, disinfectants; and with the ability to do so safely
- General maintenance of habitats, service/support areas and holding units such as: fence/enclosure repair, furniture, mister system, automatic drinkers, shade cloth, fill holes, etc. Complete monthly containment checks on enclosures.
- Capture and restraint of animals for shipping/loading or routine/non-routine medical procedures; captures animals by hand-injection, hand, net, catch pole, or by corralling them under direction of Area Animal Care Curator or Director of Animal Care
- As assigned, assist Veterinary Care Services with medical treatments such as prescribed medication/treatments, weighing/measuring, surgery, hand injections, restraint/capture of animals, prepare & administer any required medications &/or supplements, collect fecal, urine & other samples as requested by the veterinarian
- Research the animal collection; research scientific journals, observe and recognize a variety of courtship behaviors; creates environments that induce breeding where appropriate and recommended design options
- Monitor incubation process of eggs and/or hand rearing of neonates as necessary; keep appropriate records
- Recognize signs of pest infestation in animal areas and combat pests as directed
- Ability to enter accurately animal daily reports using in house computer ZIMS program
- Must have strong organizational, observational and time management skills
- Participates with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enriching experiences of animal collection
- Work with animal collection on a one-to-one basis to train behaviors for animal management and educational programming according to accepted training protocols
- Strong organizational and communication skills with the ability to accurately report daily information written, orally and with computer programs
- Motivated, self-starter who can work with minimal supervision. Should also be able to work with others in a team setting
- 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
- Communication skills for effective working relationships with all Zoo staff and outside professionals. Courteous with guests, staff and volunteers at all times while representing the institution at the highest standard of professionalism
- Ability to professionally and effectively provide and accept feedback
- Ability to speak to guests and give animal presentations both informally and formally
- Ability to record and articulate observations intelligently
- Ability to give and comprehend written and oral instructions, and to accurately carry out such instructions
- Maintain assigned areas and holding units to ensure animal, keeper, and guest safety, and are in good appearance paying attention to detail for guest viewing at all times
- Excellent guests service and communication skills for effective & engaging public speaking; Gives knowledgeable and engaging tour/talks for guests, staff, and donors
- Participate in guest education programs on or off-site, formal, and informal animal presentations and outreach programs, scheduled and impromptu keeper talks and provide accurate, effective and engaging presentations; Assist Animal Care Curator or Director of Animal Care with development of educational material
- Assist other departments (i.e. Development/Marketing, Social Media, Special Events, and Education) in their duties by providing educational, animal programs or appearances for the media, promotional events, donors or on/off-site events, as assigned by Animal Care Management
- Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals under the Two Key/Two Lock/Two Keeper and Lock Out Tag Out Engineering Control systems
- Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others, and animals
- Ability to remain calm and professional in the event of an unpredictable situation and follow through until situation is over
Professional Development Opportunity:
Animal Care Keepers are eligible to apply for Professional Development through the Keeper Excursion Program. Eligibility will depend on overall standing as a positive and productive team member.
- AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree and at least one year of exotic animal experience, required. Bachelor’s 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.
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.
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. 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.