Job Postings

Animal Care Supervisor


The Living Desert

Closing Date
September 26, 2019

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is seeking an enthusiastic, and progressive team member to join our Animal Department Leadership Team as an Animal Care Supervisor and is responsible for supporting The Living Desert’s mission in desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.

The Animal Care Supervisor is an energetic, front line supervisory position responsible for assisting the Animal Care Curator in managing area staff and the area animal collection. This position is primarily responsible within a specified area of the zoo to provide the highest quality daily care, husbandry and behavioral management of a defined portion of The Living Desert’s animal collections and is responsible for the daily care of assigned animal habitats and other associated animal facilities. This section is comprised of a large group of desert species, which includes a variety of small mammals and carnivores including, but not limited to, cheetah, cougar, jaguar, bobcat, Mexican wolf, foxes, camel, a variety of avian species and reptiles (some venomous), upcoming Australia Adventure, and the Desert Carnivore Conservation Center (small carnivore breeding center).
This position also performs the functions of Animal Care Keeper and is able to follow instructions from Animal Management. The Animal Care Supervisor must demonstrate significant knowledge of husbandry practices, animal training, and be able to lead and mentor staff in the performances of these practices. Must 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 teams.
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.

Animal Care Supervisor Tasks, Duties & Responsibilities:
• Deliver uncompromising excellence in animal care, welfare, operant conditioning, and guest engagement
• Liaison between management and animal care keeper staff as needed. Is honest and forthcoming to Animal Management with information regarding accomplishments, issues and challenges
• Observation and reporting on all assigned animals to Animal Management
• Provide mentorship to Animal Care Keeper staff
• Assists in and maintains team development with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enrichment of animal collection
• Dietary observations with a knowledge of nutritional requirements for assigned species
• Natural behaviors knowledge of assigned species
• Participate in amending and updating standard operating procedures (SOPs) and protocols in a timely manner
• Training staff on area SOPs according to regulatory agencies; ensuring training protocols of staff and animal are being followed
• Develop and initiate engaging animal programs and interaction with guests of all ages
• Provide leadership in emergency situations while remaining calm
• Supervise and provide direction to Animal Care Keepers in absence of Animal Care Curators
• 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 and communication to other zoo team members
• Assist and implement breeding protocols, diet revisions, habitat designs and habitat maintenance
• Assist in acquisition/de-acquisition of animal collection by training, capture, restraining, crating of animal, loading, transportation and shipment
• Train, assist and supervise work of volunteers/interns and ensure their safety while performing these duties, under direction of Animal Care Management
• Ensure assigned areas and holding units are in good appearance paying attention to detail for guest viewing; and animal, keeper and guest safety at all times
• 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
• Excellent guests service and communication skills for effective & engaging public speaking. Gives knowledgeable and engaging tour/talks for guests, staff and donors
• Provides assistance to other departments as needed
• Other related responsibilities as necessary to accomplish department objectives

Working Conditions:
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 potentially available.

Education and Pre-requisites

• 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 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.

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 team members receive seven (7) paid sick days on an annual basis. Paid sick time for the first year will be pro-rated from the date of hire and then earned every July 1st thereafter.

The Living Desert offers to its employees: 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. Team members 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 employees. Team members are eligible to participate in this plan after six months of employment. A one-time annual discretionary match of up to 2% of your annual wages may be available 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: Qualified applicants must send cover letter, resume and three (3) professional references to:

Heather Down, 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 Supervisor. Open until filled.