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Animal Keeper

Santa Barbara Zoo

Animal Keeper

Santa Barbara, CA
Full Time
  • Responsibilities

    Immediate Opening!

    The Santa Barbara Zoo is seeking a full-time Animal Keeper for our Animal Care and Health team.

    This position involves working with Exotic Carnivores (exotic large felids) and other mammalian species, as well as other taxa. The person filling this position will carry out all basic aspects of the daily care of the animals, including, but not limited to: feeding, training, enrichment, maintenance of exhibits, and enhancing the guest experience.

    This position is part of a dynamic and progressive Animal Care & Health team. A strong teamwork ethic, personal accountability, public speaking skills and proven enthusiasm are required. You must be able to lift up to 50 lbs, and be able to work in a strenuous work environment near the beach. A Bachelor’s degree in a related field is preferred. A minimum of 1-2 years previous experience in routine animal husbandry in an AZA accredited institution or similar facility is preferred.

    The ideal candidate would welcome the challenge of regularly participating in the zoo’s local field conservation activities including California condor, island fox, and local ectotherm species.

    3 Positions Open

    For one position: Exotic Carnivores experience is preferred. Schedule: Thursday–Monday, generally, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

    For another position: Bird experience is preferred.

    Schedule: Include at least one weekend day, 5 days a week, generally, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

    Compensation: This position may be filled at the Apprentice Keeper, or Keeper level with wages between $14-$16/hour, DOE.

    Job Description: Keeper

    Under general direction of Curator and Director of Animal Programs, the Keeper is responsible for the application of daily animal care, maintenance of exhibits, guest experience and applicable research.

    ESSENTIAL DUTIES include the following:

    Animal Care:

    Performs all basic animal husbandry and health duties in the safest manner following established Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGS) and protocols.

    Records the signs of normal health and changes in animal under his/her care using the daily report system

    Records results of training sessions and enrichment to document and evaluate progress toward team goals.

    Develops and documents training and enrichment programs.

    Facilitates established animal presentations.

    Regular attendance necessary.

    Understanding/Handling Emergency Situations:

    Responds to animal emergencies quickly and calculates risks involved for animal, guest and staff.

    Remains calm and creates an atmosphere of calm and control for those dealing with the emergency situation.

    Uses physical capture and restraint equipment as required.

    Evaluates the impact of emergency or mock situations on all areas of the Zoo and suggests improvements to the emergency response systems.

    Guest Relations:

    Associates with guests to assist and share information.

    Responds to all guest inquiries, complaints, and comments according to Zoo guest relation procedures.

    Meets exhibit presentation quality standards for cleanliness and maintenance to maximize our guest experience.

    Develops and facilitates formal and informal educational programs.

    Staff development:

    Supervises volunteers and interns.

    Shares critical information, best practices, and procedures on a consistent basis with staff.

    Coaches coworkers, volunteers and interns and provides informal feedback.

    Provides training for new keepers on husbandry standard operating guidelines.

    Operation and Business:

    Exemplifies the highest ethical standards to ensure the health and well being of the animal collection.

    Ensures that all regulatory standards are met such as USDA Animal Welfare Act, regional, federal and AZA standards.

    Reports animal maintenance issues and potential hazards for staff.

    Ensures consistent productive operating practices by identifying areas for potential revenue generation, reduction of costs and more efficient procedures.

    Holds peers accountable for their performance.

    Adheres to Zoo’s policies and procedures as outlined in the Employee Policy Manual.

    Attends bi-monthly all-employee meetings.

    Attends departmental meetings.


    Greets every guest with a smile.

    Thanks guests for supporting/visiting the Zoo.

    Answers phone calls, voice mails, and e-mails promptly and in a professional manner.

    Insures the Zoo’s presentation standards for cleanliness and maintenance are met by keeping work areas clean, picking up trash, reporting unsafe or unsightly conditions.

    Maintains a clean neat appearance and adheres to the Zoo’s uniform dress code.

    Takes responsibility to stay informed about happenings at the Zoo, such as reading employee communications and attending meetings.

    Reflects the qualities outlined in the Guest Relations Statement and the Employee Pledge.

    Other duties as assigned to maintain efficient and quality zoo operations.


    To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements and environmental characteristics described below are representative of the knowledge, skill, ability, and working and physical elements required of the position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    Education and Experience:

    Bachelor’s degree or graduation from two-year college program focused on captive animal husbandry.

    Experience in routine animal husbandry as in a zoo, aquarium or closely related activity.

    License, Certification, or Preferred Qualifications:

    Bachelor’s degree in Life Science such as Biology, Zoology, Ecology or closely related discipline is preferred.

    Previous work experience in an AZA accredited facility is preferred.

    Valid driver’s license with good driving record is desirable

    Knowledge, Skills and Ability:

    Available to work weekends and holidays, and when events are scheduled.

    Knowledge of animal behavior and natural history.

    Knowledge of procedures for observation, handling/restraint, training, enrichment, reproduction, facility needs and health of animals.

    Understanding of emergency situation procedures, specifically those involved with guest and staff safety.

    Basic computer skills.

    Ability to follow oral and written direction.

    Effective oral and written communication skills.

    Ability to develop warm and friendly relationships at work.

    Ability to interact courteously and respectfully with supervisors, fellow employees, volunteers, our guests.

    Ability to exercise safe work habits while in proximity of potentially dangerous animals.

    Awareness of, sensitivity to, and empathy with animals

    Physical Demands & Work Environment:

    Requires the ability to access all areas of the facility.

    Ability to negotiate the zoo work environment including behind-the-scenes, lawns, gravel, and hilltop.

    Must be able to participate in operational practices; including climb stairs, manipulate tools, and stand/walk for long periods of time.

    Must be physically able to operate a variety of machines and equipment including electric cart, two-way radio and capture equipment.

    Must be able to lift 50 pounds occasionally, and 10 or fewer pounds frequently.

    Ability to exert a negligible amount of force frequently or constantly push, pull or otherwise move objects.

    The ability to use abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.

    The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.

    Involves working out of doors in all weather conditions.

    Supportive and open employment culture.

    Tools Used:

    Standard cleaning equipment such as hoses, rakes, shovels, and brooms

    Two-way radio

    Personal Computer and software (Word, Excel, Outlook)

    Capture equipment

    Electric cart

    Hand tools

    This job description is representative of the expectations of the position described. Additional duties, reporting relationships, and/or position criteria may be assigned as deemed necessary by the Chief Executive Officer or authorized representative. No changes to this job description shall be made without written permission by the Chief Executive Officer or authorized representative.

    The Zoo reserves the right to revise this job description at any time. The job description does not constitute a contract for employment, and does not guarantee employment for any specified period of time. The job description does not in any way alter the at-will employment relationship.