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Keeper of Destination Discovery - Full-Time

Saint Louis Zoo
St. Louis, United States Posted: June 17, 2024

The world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo is and AZA accredited institution dedicated to saving species and bringing people and wildlife together. Home to over 16,000 animals, many of which are endangered. Entry is free every day for everyone, an important part of our commitment to people and animals – always.

  • The Zoo is committed to the Three Keys (Animals Always, People Matter, and Operational Excellence) and Core Values (Community, Creativity, Openness, Integrity, and Life-Work Balance.
  • Learn more at: https://stlzoo.org/
About St. Louis, Mo:
  • From Explore St. Louis: “Urban explorer, outdoor adventurer, aficionado of family fun – no matter your travel persona, you’ll find plenty to do in St. Louis.
  • The city is brimming with free, world-class attractions and boasts an arts-and-culture scene that’s second to none.
  • Plus, fans of fresh air will be surprised and delighted by our flourishing public parks, miles of trails and exhilarating waterways.
  • Sprinkle in a bit of our secret sauce – the warmth and hospitality of the residents – and you’ll discover that St. Louis dishes up undeniably epic travel experiences.
  • Don’t take our word for it, though.
  • Come and see for yourself.”
  • Learn more at https://explorestlouis.com/
Position Summary:
  • The Saint Louis Zoo is looking for a skilled animal care professional to serve as a Destination Discovery keeper in the care of diverse population of animals.
  • Destination Discovery staff collaborate with our Conservation Education Department to create inspiring, educational and transformational early childhood and family programming.
  • Learn more about Destination Discovery here: https://stlzoo.org/news/destinationdiscovery
  • This position will serve under the direction of the Fred Saigh Curator of Destination Discovery and the Zoological Manager of Destination Discovery as part of the Zoo’s dynamic, kind, passionate, and expert Animal Care team, led by the Vice President of Animal Care, and comprised of Animal Curators, Zoological Managers, Keeper staff, Animal Health, Animal Nutrition Services, and Life Support Services.
  • We are seeking candidates with significant experience in the direct care of a wide variety of species and experience working with Ambassador Animals.
  • A competitive applicant will be an individual who is equally passionate about connecting our youngest guests to animals and their habitats through early childhood and family programming and providing for the welfare of the animals in our care. 
  • Candidates should have a strong animal care background and demonstrate a commitment to the Destination Discovery team that fosters an atmosphere of inclusion, teamwork, innovation and safety.
  • Candidates should also demonstrate extensive experience in positive reinforcement in operant conditioning in a professional animal care setting.
  • This position will also promote the Zoo’s core values (Community, Creativity, Openness, Integrity, and Life-Work Balance). Ability to collaborate is a must, such as working closely with the Animal Health, Research, Conservation Education and other Zoo teams to provide the best animal welfare and contribute to environmental empathy and conservation efforts.
  • Skills in active listening as well as strong written and oral communication skills are a must.
  • Should show experience in and be committed to assessing and improving animal well-being through training, enrichment, social management, professional development, and other approaches.
  • In addition, this position plays an important role in the Saint Louis Zoo’s goal to create a memorable guest experience, developing empathy for wildlife and wild places and to connect our community with our mission, animal care, and conservation work.
  • Achieving the highest standards of animal welfare and wellbeing through exemplary animal care, enrichment, and behavioral conditioning
  • Cleaning, maintaining and enhancing animal habitats and indoor living spaces, service areas, and public areas as assigned.
  • Continual monitoring of habitats and public area conditions with attention to detail.
  • Safe handling of animals for veterinary health care and research purposes.
  • Continual monitoring of the horticultural and custodial needs in Destination Discovery.
  • Providing a dynamic enrichment and training programs to create a diverse and stimulating environment that facilitates opportunities for diverse and natural behaviors.
  • Maintaining exceptional departmental records, including entering data into ZIMS.
  • Assisting with and raising awareness for WildCare Institute programs and AZA SAFE programs related to Destination Discovery.
  • Supporting educational activities such as special Zoo events, Mission Moments, and other on-site celebrations of wildlife.
  • Collaborating with other zoo personnel as needed to meet the Zoo’s mission
  • Partner with Marketing, Events, PR, Philanthropy, Tours, Guest Services, etc. to aid in achieving the Zoo’s mission, which may include conducting interviews, guest experiences, or tours.
  • Contributing to open team discussions and sharing ideas in positive and professional manner.
  • Aiding the Zoo’s efforts to meet and exceed AZA and USDA standards.
  • Partnering with Curator and Zoological Manager of Destination Discovery and our Conservation Education Department to plan, prepare, support, facilitate, and evaluate public presentations on animal care and conservation in Destination Discovery.
  • Adhering to animal care procedures and policies, including record keeping, behavioral husbandry, welfare assessments, communication plans, safety protocols, training plans, ambassador protocols, etc. 
  • Supporting special animal care activities such as physical examinations, transport, exhibit repairs, and modifications.  
  • Representing the Saint Louis Zoo with internal and external partners, and in the media. 
  • Assisting Zoological Manager of Destination Discovery in maintaining facilities, including reporting work orders and liaising with Facilities Management teams for repairs or projects.
  • Facilitating institutional core values throughout Destination Discovery area by assisting Zoological Manager in onboarding and training of new hires or volunteers as well as through ongoing core value engagement and training with all staff.
  • Communicating and collaborates with Veterinary, Animal Care, Research, Life Support Systems, and Nutrition staff to advance animal care.
  • The applicant requires strong verbal and written communication as well as strong organizational capacity with ability to be flexible.
  • The applicant requires strong computer literacy skills and proficiency in or ability to learn the following software/programs: ZIMS, Office 365, etc.
  • May serve a role in native wildlife response, and/or emergency response.
  • Ability to travel to conferences, workshops, etc. for professional development preferred.
  • This job description is not intended to be all-inclusive; therefore, the employee may be required to perform other reasonably related duties as assigned by management.
Additional Expectations:
  • All Destination Discovery staff must be dedicated to growing and improving our Zoo’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to the Zoo’s mission statement and its core values.
  • Destination Discovery staff must strive to decrease our environmental footprint to serve as models to our community to do the same through education and example.
  • Performs duties in a service-oriented manner.
  • Recognizes the needs of others and treats others with respect and dignity.
  • Maintains good work habits and adheres to the employee handbook and all policies and procedures.
  • Deals courteously and effectively with guests and fulfill the Guest Promise.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a work environment free from discrimination and sexual harassment and supports the Zoo’s commitment to equal employment opportunities.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety and works with Management of Destination Discovery, Dive Safety Officer, and Director of Safety and Risk Management as needed.
  • Demonstrates comfort in public speaking, good presentation skills when working with the Zoo team, our public/community, Zoo Governance and other internal and external stakeholders.
  • Commitment to the Zoo’s Three Keys (Animals Always, People Matter, and Operational Excellence) and Core Values (Community, Creativity, Openness, Integrity, and Life-Work Balance.
  • Four-year Bachelor’s Degree in biology, animal science, wildlife management, zoology or other field of study applicable to zoo animal management preferred with preference given to applicants with at least two years’ experience working with a program animal population in an AZA institution.
  • Direct experience in the day-to-day care for animals in a zoo setting, with knowledge of the care of animals, animal behavior, and hazards of working with wildlife.
  • Animal training and ambassador animal experience preferred.
  • A working familiarity with AZA animal population management programs (SAFE, SSP, TAG, PMC, etc.).
  • PADI or other professional diving certification a plus.
  • Experience partnering and collaborating on development of education programs a plus.
  • Demonstration of a high level of emotional intelligence and the ability to work as a positive team member.
  • Working knowledge of AZA Accreditation Standards and USDA Animal Welfare Standards a plus.
  • Working knowledge of zoonotic diseases and methods of preventing the spread of contagious disease.
  • Proficient in ZIMS software, welfare assessments, and experience maintaining records and preparing reports a plus.
  • Valid driver’s license or ability to obtain one is required.
  • COVID vaccinations are required for this position.
  • All successful candidates for this position will be required to submit a criminal background check and drug test.
Physical Demands:
  • The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform some of 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 talk, see, or hear.
  • The employee frequently is required to stand, sit, and walk for long periods.
  • The employee must frequently lift and/or move up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds, as well as work outside in all types of weather conditions.
Work Schedule:
  • Weekend days off at this time will be Sunday/Monday but is subject to change due to shifts in coverage needs.
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule, on holidays, and evenings for animal procedures or events will be necessary at times.

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