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Animal Nutritionist

Houston Zoo
Houston, United States Posted: March 22, 2024


The Nutritionist oversees the Animal Nutrition program including formulation of species and individual animal-specific diets, managing diet changes, performing routine diet reviews, and facilitating nutrition research.  The Nutritionist will also be responsible for evaluating nutrient analyses of food items, working closely with veterinarians and Animal Care leaders, managing the acquisition, quality control, preparation, and delivery of food items for the animal collection, managing the Animal Nutrition budget, and the supervision of the staff performing those duties (1 Animal Nutrition manager and 6 Animal Nutrition keepers). The nutritionist is part of the Animal Programs Leadership team.

  • May occasionally be required to work weekends, holidays, and beyond scheduled work hours.
Our Mission:
  • Connect communities with animals, inspiring action to save wildlife.
Our Vision:
  • Be a leader in the global movement to save wildlife.
Job Duties and Responsibilities
  • With support from the Animal Care and Health teams, design, evaluate, and monitor animal diets that meet the nutritional and psychological needs of each species and individual or group of animals
  • Oversees the operations of the Animal Nutrition Center, including the acquisition, quality control (including nutrient analysis), preparation, and delivery of food items for the animal collection
  • Provides functional supervision, operational assistance, and technical guidance for AN Manager, keepers, interns, and volunteers in the performance of job tasks
  • Responsible for the recruitment, selection, development, evaluation, and performance management of direct reports
  • Develop and maintain nutrition records, including diet changes
  • Provide direction and oversight to ensure nutritional regulatory requirements and standards are met or exceeded (AZA, USDA, HACCP)
  • Manage nutritional resource acquisitions and maintain relationships with vendors
  • Develop, revise, and implement area-specific protocols and operating procedures
  • Collaborate with the horticulture department to implement the institutional Browse program
  • Develop and manage the departmental budget, including capital campaign requests
  • Oversee maintenance of the Animal Nutrition facilities
  • Partner with Animal Care and Health teams to facilitate nutrition research
  • Collaboratively develop institutional food procurement program in accordance with AZA sustainability guidelines
  • Participate in AZA and NAG programs
  • Positively represent the Zoo and promote the zoo’s mission and vision
  • Performs other duties as assigned
  • Contributes to saving animals in the wild through reduction of waste, water, and energy use and inspiring guests and staff to take wildlife-protecting actions
Education and Experience
  • Advanced animal nutrition training (MS and/or PhD and/or commensurate degree or experience)
  • Knowledge of animal nutrition principles including the unique requirements of non-domestic species
  • Basic animal husbandry and welfare of zoo species knowledge as it relates to nutrition.
  • General food handling, safety and sanitation practices experience
  • Knowledge of USDA, AZA, FDA, and state food safety guidelines and regulations
  • Demonstrated background in purchasing, budgeting, and warehouse functions
  • Experience in the acquisition, storage, and preparation of animal food items
  • Computer proficiency with standard Microsoft Office applications, purchasing systems, and animal record-keeping software
  • Strong leadership, interpersonal, team-building, and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently, but also with a large team
  • Practice safe work methods, identify workplace hazards, and use appropriate safety equipment.
  • Training and supervising employees
  • Must possess the ability to effectively partner with other departments and all levels of staff.
  • Valid Texas driver’s license or ability to obtain one within 60 days of employment.
About the Houston Zoo 
  • The Houston Zoo is made up of many moving parts with over 6,000 permanent residents (our animals) for whom we provide housing, meals, medical care and yes, even education!
  • There are over 2 million guests each year who come to experience our incredible variety of animals and ecosystems, as well as attend special private and public events and entertainment.
  • Our dedicated staff works around the clock to ensure that the Zoo is always running smoothly for the safety and well-being of our residents and guests.
  • We strive to ensure the protection of all the counterparts of the animals we have at the Zoo and in the wild.
  • Join the Houston Zoo and become a part of an organization that is focused on the preservation of wildlife and their habitats by combining conservation with education and the promotion of sustainable livelihoods in the local communities.
  • Houston Zoo is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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