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Senior Animal Care Specialist - Animal Ambassador Team

San Antonio Zoo
San Antonio, United States Posted: July 02, 2024

Choosing where to grow your career has a major impact on your professional and personal life, so it’s equally important you know that the place you choose to work at will support and guide you. With a diversity of passionate people, San Antonio Zoo is a place where you can collaborate with others securing a future for wildlife.

The Impact You’ll Make in this Role
  • The AAT Senior Animal Care Specialist (ACS) will serve as a lead keeper within the Education - Animal Encounters department.
  • This position will assist in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the department - comprised of multiple Animal Care Specialists and a variety of taxa including small and large mammals, birds, reptiles, and program animals.
  • This position will play a primary role in employee training, coaching, and development.
  • The Senior ACS acts as a liaison between the team and leadership, helping to assure adherence to policies and procedures while developing supervisory skills and modeling behavior that demonstrates a commitment to reaching the goals and objectives of the department and mission of San Antonio Zoo.
  • Additionally, the AAT Senior ACS is responsible for providing outstanding animal care for species throughout the department, including advanced husbandry and behavioral management.
  • This position will participate in operant conditioning and husbandry programs, provide approved environmental enrichment, work collaboratively to improve animal exhibits, prepare and conduct educational presentations and tours for guests and assist veterinary staff, as needed.
  • The AAT Senior ACS will also be expected to assist in assessing needs of both animals and employees, determining best course of action and following through to perform necessary tasks and follow up.
  • All work must be performed in accordance with industry best practices, safety protocols, standards and guidelines established by San Antonio Zoo, governing agencies and regulatory/accrediting bodies.
  • The AAT Senior ACS will report directly to the AAT Manager.
  • A successful candidate will be expected to work independently with minimal supervision, with individual assignments determined by the manager based on current workloads and department needs.
  • As an AAT Senior ACS, you will have the opportunity to tap into your curiosity and collaborate with some of the most innovative and diverse people in San Antonio. Here, you will make an impact by:
Daily duties include but are not limited to:
  • cleaning animal and keeper work areas, prepping and feeding food, carrying out animal training sessions, treating any injured/diseased individuals as necessary, making observations and recognizing abnormal animal behavior/appearance, acting upon/reporting such observations in a timely manner, and completing all necessary records and paperwork thoroughly.
  • Assist manager in training new employees assigned to the department
  • Assist veterinary staff in the treatment of collection animals and act as a liaison between vet staff and leadership and the animal care specialist team
  • Participate in or assist with the capture and restraint of a variety of taxa including dangerous species. Provide guidance to fellow employees in safety practices and improved techniques and procedures for handling or restraining animals
  • Practice good judgment in decision-making as related to animal care, emergencies, and projects, particularly in the manager’s absence.
  • Actively encourage interest in wildlife and promote the zoo’s mission through positive interaction with zoo guests via educational chats focused on animals, biology, conservation, and environmental issues
  • Handle and display presentation animals for both onsite and offsite programs, providing public with educational information in a fun and professional manner
  • Collaborate with other zoo personnel as needed to meet the zoo’s mission. This can include, but is not limited to: assisting and participating in media events, special tours, and public relations projects
  • Conduct tours for guests, staff, and volunteers, and VIP programs
  • Daily behavioral observation and animal training. Utilize operant conditioning techniques to maintain current behaviors and build new repertoire in experienced and naïve animals
  • Participate in training workshops, conferences, and other special skill development courses
  • Tasks may include heavy manual and skilled work such as moving and manipulating heavy food items, bales of hay, equipment, and crated animals
  • Understand and support San Antonio Zoo’s Strategic and Master Plans and departmental collection plans
  • Study specific reference materials pertinent to animal care, behavior and natural history as assigned
  • Follow all safety protocols and understand the senior animal care specialist’s role in emergency procedures, responding to emergencies as required
  • Make recommendations regarding diet changes, habitat design, husbandry and related matters and take steps to accomplish those goals
  • Continually observe and evaluate animal behavior and conditions for animals in the department and report any problems to the appropriate manager
  • Constantly exhibit an attitude of service inside and outside of the zoo, showing hospitality to all.
  • Be fully committed to the mission of San Antonio Zoo to create awareness that inspires action to care for the wild world we steward and animals we protect.
  • Any and all other duties as assigned.
Your Skills and Expertise 
  • To set you up for success in this role from day one, the San Antonio Zoo recommends the following skills/qualifications:
  • Must meet minimum qualifications of the Animal Care Specialist position
  • Minimum of three years extensive, progressive zoo keeping experience, preferably in an AZA accredited institution, or in an institution with equivalent standards
  • Associate degree or higher in Wildlife Management, Animal Science, Zoology, Biology, or related field preferred. May substitute schooling for additional training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  • Ability to work safely around delicate, wild, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous animals
  • Understanding of principles and application of operant conditioning training for advanced husbandry behaviors and public demonstrations
  • Excellent public speaking skills and the ability to deliver educational presentations, animal encounters, tours, and potential media requests
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment in analyzing animal behavior concerns or emergency 
  • situations, and to respond with appropriate action
  • Must be 18 years of age or older with a clean driving record for vehicle operation.
  • Valid Texas driver's license or obtain within 3 months of employment.
  • Must be able to lift and carry 50 pounds, bend, stoop, and stand for long periods of time and work outdoors in extreme Texas weather
  • Must be highly motivated, organized and demonstrate a willingness to adapt positively to change in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with staff at all levels and possess excellent communication and organizational skills to function effectively in a team environment.
  • Highlight experience working a variety of taxa including mammals, birds, and reptiles.
  • Able to communicate in English.
  • This is a full-time or part-time position which requires working weekends, holidays, and frequent occasionally after hour/evening events as assigned. 
  • The San Antonio Zoo is an equal opportunity employer. 
  • San Antonio Zoo will not discriminate against any applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status.
  • Perks
  • We offer robust benefits including medical, dental, vision and 403B. As well as Zoo memberships and Zoo discounts throughout the park.
  • $18.00 / hr

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