Job Postings

Animal Care Keeper – Africa


The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Closing Date
August 1, 2021

The Living Desert is seeking enthusiastic candidates to join our Animal Care team as an Animal Care Keeper in the Africa sections of the zoo. These are key positions that requires motivated, dedicated team players who are willing to make a commitment to this conservation organization supported by a desert focused zoo. We are looking for individuals with strong organizational, decision making, and task management skills while demonstrating ability to work effectively with all levels of staff in a continually changing atmosphere.

The Animal Care team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.” If you are looking for an animal care keeper position and want to help the Zoo achieve a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo, deliver world class care and has an inclusive culture, we are the place for you. We are looking for team members who have the ability to make good decisions regarding the welfare of animals, staff and guests while working for the greater good of the zoo. Cooperative and collaborative team members with a great guest service attitude will thrive here.

Position Summary:
Reports to Animal Care Curator. We have positions open in our Africa sections of the zoo. A variety of species are available to take care of ranging from small to large hoofstock including a herd of 9 giraffe, small to large carnivores and medium to large avians.
Plains position: African Wild dogs, Grevy’s zebra, Addax, Bighorn sheep, Ankole cattle and Dromedary camels. Candidates with previous hands-on carnivore or hoofstock training experience with hoofwork, blood draw and injection behaviors will be a plus for the Plains position.
Village position: Petting Kraal with Nigerian dwarf goats, Barbados Black-belly sheep and Sicilian donkeys, African crested porcupine, mixed Weaver aviary, Amur Leopard and Striped Hyena. Candidates with previous hands-on carnivore or hoofstock training experience with hoofwork, blood draw and injection behaviors will be a plus for the Village position.
Savanna position: Giraffe, Greater kudu, Ostrich, East African crowned cranes and Guineafowl. Candidates with previous hands-on giraffe or other hoofstock training experience with hoofwork, blood draw and injection behaviors will be a plus for the Giraffe Savanna position.

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
• Strong communication, problem solving and self-motivation skills
• 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
• 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 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.
• Research the animal natural history; observe and recognize a variety of courtship behaviors; creates environments that induce breeding where appropriate and recommended design options
• Participates with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enriching experiences of animal collection
• Strong organizational and communication skills with the ability to accurately report daily information written, orally and with computer programs
• 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
• Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals under the Two Key/Two Lock/Two Keeper and Lock Out Tag Out Engineering Control systems

Education and Pre-requisites

Minimum Qualifications:
• AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree and at least one year 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.

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.

Compensation and benefits

Paid Time Off (PTO) is accrued at a rate of .769 days per pay period which is equivalent to twenty (20) days on an annual basis. In addition to PTO you will receive seven (7) paid sick days on an annual basis. Your paid sick time for your first year will be pro-rated from your date of hire and then earned every July 1st thereafter.

The Living Desert offers to its team members: Health, Dental, Vision and Life Insurance that is either paid in full or significantly subsidized by the organization. We also offer Voluntary Life Insurance, Short Term Disability Insurance and Flexible Spending Accounts. You are eligible to participate in our insurance programs the first day of the month following thirty days of employment.

We also offer a 401(k) Plan to our eligible team members. You are eligible to participate in this plan after six months of employment. A one-time annual discretionary match at a percentage to be determined may be available to you on the last day of the fiscal year and paid after that time in the same calendar year.

Application instructions

To apply for this position: If you want to join this team at one of the best zoos in North America please send resume, three (3) references and a cover letter to Wendy Enright, Animal Care Curator 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. Positions will remain open until filled. Once a candidate has accepted a position at The Living Desert they will be expected to start within 4 weeks.

Please add which position you are interested in the subject heading of your email.