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Vice President of Animal Care

San Antonio Zoo
San Antonio, United States Posted: June 20, 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 Vice President (VP) of Animal Care is a senior leadership role responsible for overseeing the Animal Care, Horticulture, and Veterinary Service departments and managing the department. 
  • The VP of Animal Care & Horticulture reports directly to the COO.
  • This position ensures the highest standards of animal care aligns with the zoo’s mission and values, and promotes conservation, education, and research initiatives.
  • As the VP of Animal Care, 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:
  • Develops and executes strategic plans for animal care, aligning with the zoo’s mission and long-term goals. Ensures continuous improvement in animal wellbeing, health, and overall care practices.
  • Oversees the training, and professional development of animal care staff, including directors, managers, veterinarians, and animal care specialists.
  • Foster a culture of teamwork, excellence, and ongoing education.
  • Ensures the highest standards of health, nutrition, and welfare for all animals.
  • Ensures compliance with local, state, federal, and international regulations and standards related to animal care and wellbeing.
  • Liaise with regulatory bodies and ensure the zoo maintains necessary accreditations and certifications.
  • Develops and manages the animal care department budget.
  • Allocate resources efficiently to support the health, enrichment, and overall well-being of the animal collection.
  • Designs and implements compliance with AZA SAFE, SSP’s, and other managed programs, accreditations and certifications.
  • Ensure these programs contribute to the zoo’s educational and conservation objectives while enhancing the quality of life for the animals.
  • Collaborates with other departments to plan, design, and manage animal exhibits.
  • Ensure exhibits meet the physical and psychological needs of the animals and provide educational and engaging experiences for visitors.
  • Develops and oversees protocols for animal emergencies, including disease outbreaks, injuries, and natural disasters. Lead response efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of animals and staff.
  • Works closely with other zoo departments, such as education, conservation, animal wellbeing, and guest services, to integrate animal care initiatives with broader zoo programs. Support interdisciplinary projects and promote a holistic approach to zoo management.
  • Represents the zoo in the community and within professional organizations. Build and maintain relationships with external stakeholders, including conservation groups, research institutions, and donors. Advocate for the zoo’s animal care and conservation efforts at local, national, and international levels.
  • Establish and maintain positive, cooperative, and effective working relations with fellow employees.
  • Constantly exhibit a guest service attitude, a smile, and an obvious interest in guest comfort and service.
  • Communicate with the public in a courteous and tactful manner and assist guests with questions and directions to various areas of the Zoo. Address the guest - do not wait to be asked.
  • Remove trash and debris from public areas; i.e. pick up litter whenever you see it.
  • 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:
  • Advanced degree in zoology, animal science, veterinary medicine, or a related field.
  • Extensive experience in animal care and management in a zoological or aquarium setting. A minimum of 10 years in progressively responsible roles is typically required.
  • Proven leadership and management experience, including overseeing large teams, complex projects, and department budgets.
  • In-depth knowledge of animal wellbeing standards, current animal care best practices and regulatory requirements. Familiarity with accreditation standards from organizations such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoological Association of America (ZAA), and American Humane.
  • Strong leadership and team-building skills with the ability to inspire and manage a diverse team of professionals.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to engage effectively with staff, stakeholders, and the public.
  • Strong organizational and problem-solving abilities, with a strategic mindset and attention to detail.
  • Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, with a commitment to the zoo’s mission and values.
  • Innovative and forward-thinking, with a willingness to embrace new technologies and methodologies in animal care.
  • High ethical standards and integrity, with a focus on transparency and accountability in all aspects of the role.
  • Ability to perform the physical duties associated with animal care, including lifting, handling animals, and working in various environmental conditions.
  • Experience in developing and implementing emergency response protocols for animal care situations.
  • Proficiency in financial planning and budget management, with experience in resource allocation and financial oversight.
  • Commitment to continuous professional development, staying current with advancements in the field of zoological and veterinary medicine.
  • Ability to work weekends, holidays and occasional after-hour assignments.
  • Ability to work irregular hours and to travel for extended lengths of time domestically and overseas.
  • Experience working with government agencies, non-government conservation agencies, other employees, and the general public.
  • Excellent problem solving, communication and organizational skills, with diverse people, cultures, and politics.
  • 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.
  • We offer robust benefits including medical, dental, vision and 403B. As well as Zoo memberships and Zoo discounts throughout the park.

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