Job Postings

Animal Care Keeper – Africa


The Living Desert

Closing Date
July 31, 2019

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is seeking an enthusiastic and progressive team member to join our Animal Department Team as a full-time Animal Care Keeper- “Africa” responsible for supporting The Living Desert’s mission in desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.
The Animal Care Keeper maintains the welfare of the park’s assigned animal collection and its environment in accordance with The Living Desert’s welfare standards which includes applying daily operant conditioning and behavioral modification techniques, progressing animal husbandry, and interacting with the public to enhance guest experience.
Successful candidates will possess professionalism and excellent communication, decision making, and organizational skills. This team member must be creative, dedicated, and a self-motivated team player to function effectively in a team environment and who is willing to make a significant commitment to the organization.
Our new team member will have the opportunity to develop a career in an innovative and dynamic environment. The ideal candidate must have the ability to accept challenges, demonstrate adaptability and desire to grow, follow the lead of management and zoological goals, and meet deadlines in a fast-paced work environment, and must value fun.
Position Summary:
Reports directly to an Animal Care Curator. Directly supervises interns and volunteers.

The Animal Care Keeper is a front-line staff position responsible for the daily care and behavioral management of a defined animal care string within the “Africa” section of the zoo. This section is comprised of a large group of desert species (from a variety of taxa), which includes hoofstock and carnivores including Nigerian dwarf goats, Barbados blackbelly sheep, Sicilian donkeys, Ankole cattle, Leopard, Striped hyena, African Crested Porcupine and a variety of small avian species.

Duties and Responsibilities:
• Perform cleaning, renovations, and maintenance of assigned animal habitats, support areas, and equipment.

• Participate with the daily behavioral husbandry and operant conditioning of animal collection.
• Support daily animal enrichment and documentation to promote, encourage and evaluate natural and engaging behaviors.
• Observe, monitor, and report animal behavior changes and medical concerns.
• Execute daily guest chats and animal training demonstrations while maintaining a superior level of showmanship.
• Provide professional, courteous, educational, and exceptional guest service.
• Adhere to all industry, government, and AZA policies and regulations regarding animal acquisition, handling, husbandry, record keeping, cleanliness/sanitation, and animal health. 

• Comply with safety policies, practices, and procedures.
• Participate in proactive team efforts to achieve departmental and organization goals.

• Collaborate with other departments within the park.
• Perform other duties as assigned and as workload necessitates.

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.

Education and Pre-requisites

Minimum Qualifications:
• Associates or Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree or equivalent of at least two years of exotic animal care 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.
• Ability to effectively communicate with all staff levels, Board, senior and middle management, donors, volunteers and guests.
• Analytical, interpersonal, public relations, presentation and communication skills both verbal and written.
• Ability to obtain a valid California driver’s license.
• Must be insurable on The Living Desert’s automobile insurance.

General Skills:
• General knowledge of zoo animal husbandry and observational skills.
• Proven ability in the use of operant conditioning techniques.
• Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals.
• Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others, and animal.
• Ability to remain calm and professional in the event of an unpredictable situation and follow through until situation is over.
• Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner, and act accordingly at all times.
• Ability to speak in public and give animal presentations to public both informally and formally.
• Ability to accurately enter animal daily reports using ZIMs.
• Possess strong observational skills.
• Must have strong organizational skills.
• Ability to articulate and record observations intelligently.
• Ability to give and comprehend and communicate accurately, clearly and concisely written and oral instructions, and to accurately carry out such instructions.
• Must be a motivated self-starter who needs minimal supervision.
• Ability to work with others in a team setting.

Compensation and benefits

$14.96/ hr
Health insurance (include Rx)
Dental insurance
Vision insurance
Life insurance
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Voluntary Life insurance
Voluntary Short Term Disability
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Travel opportunities for occasional conference and workshop if funding available. Some or all expenses paid.

Application instructions

To apply for this position: Qualified applicants must send cover letter, resume and three (3) professional references to:

Wendy Enright, Animal Care Curator, The Living Desert, 47-900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, CA 92260 or by e-mail:

Include in cover letter how you will help move The Living Desert forward in your role as an Animal Care Keeper. Please write “Animal Care Keeper- Africa” in subject line of email. Open until filled.