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Zookeeper (African Species Keeper) Full-time

Great Plains Zoo
Sioux Falls, United States Posted: February 07, 2024

The Great Plains Zoo is seeking a full-time Zookeeper to work with our African Species.  In this exciting role, you will have the unique opportunity to work closely with fascinating species such as African Painted Dogs, Giraffes, Black Rhinos, Bongos, Grevy's Zebras, and more. As a key member of our zookeeping team, you will play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of these animals.  

  • We are actively seeking both internal and external candidates to fill this position promptly.
  • This is a year-round opportunity with full-time hours, offering comprehensive benefits and competitive compensation.
  • The successful candidate will become eligible for professional development opportunities and conservation trips after one year of dedicated service.
  • As our organization continues to grow, we invite you to join our collaborative team atmosphere and be a part of something extraordinary.
  • Immerse yourself in nature while fueling your passion for our industry – become a vital part of our organization during this transformative period, as we embark on numerous projects and exciting new ventures. Join us and be a part of the positive changes ahead!
Complete Job Description: 
  • Zookeeper at Great Plains Zoo
  • FLSA Classification: Non-Exempt
Organization’s Mission
  • Creating connection and inspiring conservation of wild species and spaces
Job Summary
  • Zookeepers are responsible for the specialized work involving all the health and welfare of native and exotic animals through feeding, enclosure maintenance, behavioral observation and training, enrichment and health care maintenance and treatment. 
  • Zookeepers at this facility work with a variety of species across several different taxonomic classes on a daily basis.
Reports To
  • Area Supervisor
Essential Functions
  • Provide all aspects of daily care for the animals in assigned exhibits and holding areas including but not limited to:
  • Innovative animal husbandry that is in compliance with AZA and USDA standards.
  • Preparation and feeding of approved diets.
  • Monitoring of physical and behavioral aspects of the animals under assigned care.
  • Implementation of the behavioral program of the animals under assigned care which include the animal training (operant conditioning) and enrichment programs.
  • Designing and maintaining proper animal enclosures/props/exhibits.
  • Utilizing preventative husbandry techniques and providing proactive health care as required.
  • Provide proper care for neonates and young (may require care outside of normal working hours).
  • Maintain exhibits and holding areas in a clean, aesthetically pleasing, and presentable condition at all times.  Includes performing general maintenance and repair of exhibits: painting, repairing fences and shelters, abating erosion, removing weeds, and snow removal.  Maintains the cleanliness of other areas such as breakrooms, hallways etc.
  • Observe the animal collection for any signs of illness, lethargy, injury, or dietary problems and report any problems to the Veterinarian, Area Supervisor, and/or Animal Care Director.
  • Assist the Veterinarian, Area Supervisor, and/or Animal Care Director in routine animal examinations and medicate animals with any prescribed treatments.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with fellow employees as well as interact and communicate well with the general public.
  • Maintain daily reports, medical records, enrichment logs, and other records as needed in the assigned area.
  • Give presentations to guests on a regular basis (Keeper Chats) and answers guests questions about animals and exhibits.  This engagement of Zoo’s guests should extend to being willing to provide Behind the Scenes area tours, participate in media related events, participate in public relations projects and work special events in area as necessary.
  • Capture, handle, and move animals using accepted Great Plains Zoo practices to facilitate internal movement, external shipping, medical procedures, or normal routines.  Perform basic restraint, crating/uncrating and transport of animals as required and must have the ability to operate various sizes of animal squeeze cages.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Area Supervisor, and/or Animal Care Director
  • Must be able to follow written and oral instructions.
  • Must be flexible, self-motivated, enthusiastic and a team player.
  • Must demonstrate punctual attendance, reliability and good time management skills.
  • Must be capable of dealing with emergencies calmly and efficiently.
  • Must be able to shoot rifles, shotguns and capture dart guns as required and/or directed to assist in the animal escape and recovery plan.
  • Proficiency in MS Office products (Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint).
Supervisory Responsibilities
  • This position helps to oversee and train interns, volunteers and seasonal employees; however, this position does not have any direct reports.
Work Environment
  • Must be able to tolerate and be exposed to strong odors, toxic or caustic chemicals, dust, hay, animal fur/hair/dander, and wet or humid conditions (non-weather) and all variable outdoor weather conditions.
Physical Demands
  • Must be able to climb ladders/stairs, lift crates/animals and / or equipment weighing 70 lbs., operate mowers, handle fire hoses, operate weed eaters, hay elevators, motorized carts, tractors, dump truck, pickup truck, load and operate wheel barrows loaded up to 150 lbs., be agile and flexible to maneuver in and around the animals within exhibits, corrals and holding areas. 
  • No travel necessary.
Required Education and Experience
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree; or an equivalent level of work experience and education as determined by the hiring authority.
Preferred Education and Experience
  • Previous animal training and/or Zookeeper experience.
  • Experience in an AZA accredited facility is preferred.
Additional Qualifications
  • Maintain a current tetanus vaccination (5 years) and be willing to be TB tested annually.
  • Must be certified or able to become certified in CPR/AED within 1 year of employment.
  • Must be able to work weekends, holidays and evenings as required. 
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a pre-employment background check.
  • Covid-19 and Flu Vaccines encouraged; must following masking protocols as determined by organization.
Other Duties 
  • This job description is not designed nor should it be interpreted to cover or contain a comprehensive list of all qualifications, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee. 
  • Qualifications, duties and/or responsibilities may change or new ones may be assigned at any time with or without notice. 
  • This is a year-round opportunity with full-time hours, offering comprehensive benefits and competitive compensation.
  • The successful candidate will become eligible for professional development opportunities and conservation trips after one year of dedicated service.

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