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Assistant Director of Training & Behavioral Husbandry

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
San Francisco, United States Posted: June 04, 2024

The San Francisco Zoological Society (“Society”) is a non-profit institution that manages and raises funds for San Francisco Zoo and Gardens (“Zoo”).  The Society’s mission, supra, is summarized as the 3 c’s: to connect our visitors with wildlife so that they care about nature and ultimately conserve it.  The Society’s leadership team is comprised of a CEO & Executive Director as well as a senior management team. The Society endeavors to meet or exceed the standards of its industry peers, including those established by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (“AZA”). For over 25 years, the Society has been continuously accredited by the AZA. 

  • Upholds the Society’s mission and core values (Respect, Professionalism, Resiliency, Efficiency and Equality) and other policies/procedures outlined in the Employee Handbook and elsewhere.
  • The Assistant Director of Training & Behavioral Husbandry shall improve animal welfare at the San Francisco Zoo by assisting in the coordination and oversight of the enrichment and training programs.
  • Reporting directly to the Director of Training & Behavioral Husbandry.
  • This position works closely with the Animal Care, and Animal Health departments.
  • The Assistant Director shall assist with teaching and professional development of the animal care staff.
  • She/He/They will help with the development of behavior modification plans, and training of animals.
  • Duties will include both mentoring trainers and participating in animal training.
  • This position will also support the zoo’s enrichment program by participating in the approval process for new enrichment, and enhancing the enrichment opportunities for all animals. 
  • Staying updated with best practices, and AZA standards for both training and enrichment is essential.
  • include the following. Other duties may be assigned.
  • Under the direction of the Director of Training and Behavioral Husbandry coordinates training of animal care staff and oversees enrichment application for all San Francisco Zoo animals.
  • Maintains digital record-keeping for SFZS animal training and enrichment approval forms, and documentation.
  • Provides SFZS animal care staff with ongoing continuing education in animal training methods.
  • Staff receive ongoing learning opportunities through classes, emails, and one on one mentoring.
  • Each person receives individualized help dependent on their level of experience and skills.
  • People are reinforced for accomplishments.
  • Ensures that animal training methods used by SFZS staff meet current industry best practice standards set by AZA, and are consistent across all animal areas.
  • Maintains animal training safety protocols and ensures that all approved animal trainers are aware of and work in adherence to such protocols.
  • Assists animal care staff in the training of animals and directly trains animals if necessary or if directed by the VP of Animal Care.  Should make every effort to transfer completed behaviors to keepers.
  • Researches and keeps current with best practice animal training methods, and enrichment for multiple taxa and species.
  • Consults with experienced colleagues inside and outside of the zoo to be a lifelong learner and enhance their own professional development.
  • Communicates with curatorial, keeper and veterinary staff regarding animal training needs and provides support to meet the goals for animal training and enrichment for the animal collection.
  • Reviews keepers’ animal behavior documentation – including daily logs.
  • Guides the development of behavior modification plans.
  • Participates in meetings regarding behavioral husbandry.
  • Serves as a member of the management team for the San Francisco Zoological Society.
  • Helps the Director and curators oversee behavioral enrichment application.
  • Actively and objectively assesses enrichment efficacy.
  • As requested, supports and participates on Zoo-wide committees, teams and task forces. Meets with and touring special guests and visitors as requested or directed.
  • Strives to ensure positive outcomes for all animals in consideration of all stakeholders’ perspectives.
  • Represents San Francisco Zoological Society (SFZS) and its Wellness Program at national and international meetings, conferences and symposia as suitable.
  • Supports SFZS industry leadership by playing a role in industry associations (e.g. AZA, IMATA, ABMA, etc.) and building a network of colleagues who play similar roles at their institutions.
  • Performs other duties as assigned to meet the goals and mission of the San Francisco Zoological Society. 
  • Interacts with Zoo visitors and staff courteously and offers proper attention at all times
  • To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.
  • The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
  • Bachelor’s degree (B.A.) from a four-year college or similar experience preferred.
  • 5 years of training experience preferred.
  • The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to stand and walk. 
  • The employee frequently is required to reach with hands and arms and talk or hear. 
  • The employee is occasionally required to climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. 
  • The employee must regularly lift and/or move up to 35 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.
  • The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly exposed to outside weather conditions. 
  • The employee is occasionally exposed to moving mechanical parts. 
  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently exposed to potentially hazardous animals.
  • Salary Range: $72,000-$82,000

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