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Ambassador Animal Keeper

Blank Park Zoo
Des Moines, United States Posted: April 28, 2024

Under the direction of the Ambassador Animal Care Manager, this position will be responsible for the daily husbandry and care of the Ambassador Animal collection consisting of varied species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. The Ambassador department also oversees and assists with the alpacas in the Alpaca Acres exhibit. This position may be expected to assist with and conduct both formal and informal onsite educational programming for visitors of all ages. Additionally, the Animal Keeper supports our Zoo Mission which is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research, and recreation. 

Essential Functions
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions.
  • Provides husbandry needs of all animals in care by participating in daily cleaning and enclosure maintenance, diet preparation, administering medications, feeding, training, and enrichment.
  • Responsible for daily observation of animal health and welfare. Reports abnormal behavior and problems to area supervisor.
  • Input data, observations, behavioral, and medical notes into daily logs and records.
  • Work closely with veterinary staff to provide best possible care for the animals.
  • Adheres to established animal handling and related safety protocols. Participates in established animal escape drills and procedures. Under the supervision of Rusty Stars Alpacas, understand and assist with the transport of alpacas.
  • Assist with the research and acquisition of new animals to the collection.
  • Participates in discussions and decisions of dispositions of animals in the collection.
  • Assist with conducting, reviewing, and discussing animal welfare assessments.
  • Assist in daily handling of animals for husbandry needs and programming use.
  • Assists in animal training, developing training plans, and recording of training notes for husbandry needs and programming use.
  • Provide daily enrichment, help build/create new enrichment items, and record enrichment into daily log.
  • Conduct formal and informal onsite programs and guest interactions.
  • Participate in membership programs including tours, presentations, and lectures.
  • Collaborates with animal care team and education program team to achieve common husbandry and program goals.
  • Functions effectively in both team and individual settings, and works toward adopting and creating best animal welfare practices.
  • Identifies and communicates with maintenance of repairs needed for the safety of animals, visitors and staff as well as overall upkeep of the facilities.
  • Responsible for maintaining the grounds of public areas in Alpaca Acres. 
  • Supervisory/Management Responsibilities
  •  Assists with supervision of interns, volunteers, and seasonal staff.
Work Environment
  • While performing the duties of the job, the incumbent is regularly required to stand, walk on even terrain, climb, and utilize manual dexterity to use various tools, machines, and equipment.
  • Most of the job tasks are completed inside.
  • However, the incumbent is occasionally exposed to all types of weather conditions including extreme heat and cold, snow, hail, wind, and rain.
  • Some work is required in small and/or confined spaces. 
  • Incumbents are exposed to noisy environments such as mowers and motors. 
  • Resourceful – Understanding of or can research all applicable topics as they relate to modern zoological management, operations of an attraction and customer service.
  • Flexible – Ability to handle a flexible workload with a variety of assignments while also maintain composure in an environment that can be stressful.
  • Independent – Must be able to operate independently, exercise initiative and demonstrate capacity for detail and follow-up.
  • Positive – Must be a positive, effective team member and be able to establish professional working relationships.
  • Communicator – Communicates clearly, both verbal and written. Effective listening skills.
  • Critical Thinker – Ability to make decisions while under pressure or solve complex problems that arise daily.
  • Innovative – Ability to propose solutions to areas of concern as related to animal care.
  • Efficient – Ability to complete task in a thorough but quick manner.
  • Customer-oriented – Always exercises professional customer service skills. Interacts with many different types of people and situations.
  • Team Player – Collaborates with area supervisor and team to achieve common husbandry goals.
  • Physical Requirements
  • The physical requirements described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the job. 
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to successfully perform the essential functions. 

Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles and the like.

  •  Never       
  • Occasionally       
  • Constantly   

Moving self in different positions to accomplish tasks in various environments including tight and confined spaces.

  •  Never 
  • Occasionally   
  • Constantly

Remaining in a stationary position, often standing or sitting for prolonged periods.

  •  Never       
  • Occasionally 
  • Constantly

Moving about to accomplish tasks or moving from one worksite to another.

  • Never   
  • Occasionally   
  • Constantly

Adjusting or moving objects up to 50 pounds in all directions.

  • Never       
  • Occasionally 
  • Constantly

Communicating with others to exchange information.

  • Never   
  • Occasionally 
  • Constantly

Repeating motions that may include the wrists, hands and/or fingers.

  • Never     
  • Occasionally   
  • Constantly

Operating machinery and/or power tools.

  • Never   
  • Occasionally 
  • Constantly

Operating motor vehicles or heavy equipment.

  • Never   
  • Occasionally     
  • Constantly

Assessing the accuracy, neatness and thoroughness of the work assigned.

  • Never   
  • Occasionally       
  • Constantly


  •  Never     
  • Occasionally         
  • Constantly

Stooping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling –

  •  Never     
  • Occasionally   
  • Constantly

Reaching with hands and arms.

  • Never       
  • Occasionally   
  • Constantly

Tasting or smelling.

  •  Never     
  • Occasionally   
  • Constantly


  • Close vision;
  • Distant vision; 
  • Color vision; 
  • Peripheral vision; 
  • Depth perception; 
  • Ability to adjust focus

Lifting Requirement.

  •  > than 50 pounds       
  • Up to 50 pounds       
  • Up to 40 pounds       
  • Up to 25 pounds           
  • Up to 10 pounds
Additional eligibility requirements
  • Must be insurable to drive a zoo vehicle.
  • Must be able to maintain work hours that will serve the needs of the Blank Park Zoo.
  • Must be able to operate various equipment, including skid loaders, trailers, and large vehicles.
  • Must be able to maintain calm and act professionally in all situations such as emergencies and guest interactions.
  • Licenses/Certifications
  • Valid Iowa motor vehicle license or ability to obtain.
  • First Aid/CPR Training or ability to obtain.
Other Duties
  • Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job.
  • Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice. 
Experience Required
  • Four-year college degree in Biology, Zoology, Animal Ecology, or a related field.
  • 1+ years of paid experience in animal husbandry (preferably in a zoo setting).
  • Experience in interpretation and/or education is encouraged, but not required.
  • Experience with Microsoft office, Excel spreadsheets, and Google drive are encouraged.
Further Comments
  • Blank Park Zoo is an equal opportunity employer and give employment and promotional consideration without regard to race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, and any other protected class as required by local, state, or federal law.
  • We seek applicants for employment who are dedicated, hardworking and seek fulfilling employment. In return Blank Park Zoo offers competitive income, benefits, and an excellent working environment.
  • Starting at $17.75/hr

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