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Lead Animal Keeper, Primates

Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago, United States Posted: June 29, 2024

Under general supervision, participates in all aspects of daily animal care and maintenance of particular exhibits.  As team lead, individual will be responsible for communication between management team and animal keepers.  Team lead will also be responsible for scheduling, assigning tasks, organizing meetings, overseeing compliance with implementing procedures approved by the management team.  This position works in a team atmosphere that strives to continuously provide progressive, high standards of care to ensure animal health, safety, and well-being.  Position works with team to identify and solve problems, maintain motivation to accomplish department goals and ensure a positive and productive work environment.

  • Create building run schedules and assign tasks to animal keeper staff.
  • Organize and conduct building meeting including agenda and notes.
  • Ensure compliance with approved procedures and activities including TRACKS record keeping, animal training, enrichment calendars, lock check procedures, medication procedures, policy reviews, safety protocols and quality/quantity of animal husbandry duties by the animal keepers.
  • Organize training of new animal keepers, verify when training is complete and conduct specialized training when needed.
  • Participate in the interview and recommendation process for hiring new animal keepers.
  • Provide feedback to animal keepers and management team on the work performance of the animal keepers.
  • Collaborate with animal keepers to suggest purchases of supplies and provide to the management team.
  • Participate in the development and implementation of animal management plans (birth management, transport, veterinary procedure, introduction).
  • Promotes and advances animal management and staffing decisions from the management team.
  • Promotes and contributes to a positive and productive work environment.
  • Provides support and guidance for development of good communication skills, teamwork and individual growth of the animal care staff.
  • Provides daily care to animals and their enclosures.  Including, but not limited to cleaning, feeding, watering, securing, observing, animal training and enrichment, record keeping and maintaining exhibits.
  • Participates in daily operant conditioning training sessions for assigned animals including completing training records.
  • Advances behavioral enrichment program by planning, implementing and evaluating enrichment activities.
  • Participates in welfare discussions and assessments as assigned, implementing welfare action items as needed.
  • Collects ZooMonitor data as assigned.
  • Tasks may include heavy manual and skilled work such as moving and manipulating heavy food items, hoses, bales of hay, equipment and crated animals.
  • Advances zoo mission through participation in horticulture, conservation & science and learning and community engagement programs as assigned.  This may include - assisting in delivery of educational programs formally through Learning Department, and informally through interaction with zoo guests; conducting tours for guests, staff and volunteers; participating in research projects.
  • Cleans and maintains animal exhibits including use of chemical agents and special tools which are used to ensure the health and safety of the animals. 
  • Under supervision, maintains excellence in exhibit display including furnishing, landscape maintenance, modifying and performing minor repairs and upkeep as appropriate.
  • Prepares and distributes animal diets as determined by senior animal management staff. 
  • Under supervision, administers therapeutics as prescribed by the veterinarian.
  • Monitors health of animals on a daily basis by observing eating habits, general activity, behavior and appearance, interaction with others, etc.  Reports abnormal behavior and problems to area supervisor without delay.  Prepares detailed written daily reports for supervisor.
  • Makes recommendations regarding diet change, habitat redesign and related matters and takes steps to accomplish same.
  • Prepares detailed written daily reports and completes all assigned record keeping in TRACKS record keeping system.
  • Monitors the condition of habitats, equipment and facilities and initiates work orders requests and emergency repairs as needed.
  • Maintains clean and safe work environment.
  • Maintains an inventory of equipment and supplies.
  • Adheres to established animal handling and related safety guidelines. 
  • Participates in established animal escape drills and procedures.  Under supervision, captures, restrains, and transports animals.                                                                    
  • May be assigned jobs that require coordination with other zoo departments
  • Promotes a positive guest experience.
  • Keepers assigned to evening or night shift will devote most of their time to observing selected zoo animals for possible problems or births, administering prescribed medications and night feedings.
  • May have direct responsibility for a specialized aspect of assigned animals.
  • Other duties as assigned to maintain efficient and quality zoo operations.
  • Work necessary hours as requested including all shifts, weekends, holidays, and special events.
  • Ability to work closely with the animal keepers, providing performance feedback and critical communications.
  • Ability to adopt priorities of the management team and present to the animal keepers in a positive and productive manner to meet management goals.
  • Knowledge of current industry standard husbandry practices and methods.
  • Knowledge of animal behavior and natural history; common environmental enrichment and animal training practices; biology and related subjects.
  • Knowledge of animal behavior as an indication of general health, reproductive potential and wellbeing.
  • Knowledge of occupational hazards involved and the safe work practices to employ while in proximity of potentially dangerous animals.
  • Knowledge of materials, methods, tools and equipment used in cleaning operations.
  • Skill in making thorough observations and documenting observations.
  • Ability to keep comprehensive and accurate records according to established procedures.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to both give and follow oral and written directions effectively.
  • Ability to give and receive constructive feedback.
  • Ability to organize tasks and time to ensure timely completion of all projects.
  • Ability to work in any of the assigned animal areas fulfilling all requirements of the title.
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment in analyzing animal behavior problems or emergency situations, and to respond with appropriate action.
  • Ability to work with and be comfortable around potentially dangerous and unpredictable animal species.
  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous machinery, animal handling tools, squeeze cages, chemicals and/or drugs.
  • Ability to interact courteously, respectfully and productively with supervisors, fellow employees, volunteers, zoo visitors and general public.
  • Graduation from a high school or the equivalent (GED) is required. 
  • Graduation from an accredited college or university with a degree in Biological Sciences (i.e. Biology, Zoology, and Ecology) or a closely related discipline is preferred. 
  • Previous experience performing animal care activities in a zoo, aquarium or like institution is highly desirable. 
  • Experience in designated taxonomic area preferred. 
  • Experience and proficiency in animal training using operant conditioning techniques is preferred.
  • A comparable combination of education, experience or training that would provide the level of knowledge, skills, and ability required may qualify an individual.
  • Ability to remain on feet for long periods of time.
  • Ability to regularly perform a variety of physical tasks that include but are not limited to climbing, bending, stooping, kneeling, twisting, reaching, and crawling.
  • Physical strength, including ability to frequently move up to fifty (50) pounds.
  • Ability to work in small, confined spaces.
  • Ability to work in all weather conditions.
  • Ability to wear requisite Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that may include rubber/latex gloves, steel-toed boots/shoes, face masks, face shields, eye goggles.
  • No allergy related to plants or animals that may interfere with the ability to work.
  • No impairment of sight, smell, hearing, touch balance and ability of movement that might interfere with ability to work.
  • Ability to maintain immune response to exposure to infectious and parasitic diseases.
  • Ability to swim may be required for some positions.
  • Available to work all necessary hours, including weekends, holidays, special events and all shifts. 
  • Available to attend training sessions and conferences as needed.
  • A valid driver’s license with a good driving record is preferred.
  • Proof of negative TB test.
  • Proof of covid vaccine.
  • Salary: $35.34
  • Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to an environment that is inclusive and welcoming.
  • We celebrate the diverse qualities, perspectives, values, and experiences of all people.
  • For Wildlife.
  • For All.
  • $35.34/hr

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