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Animal Care Keeper- Australian Adventures

Posted: June 7, 2024 Expired: November 27, 2023
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Palm Desert
High School

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Animal Care Keeper- Australian Adventures

Position Summary:

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens Animal Care Keeper is responsible for providing the highest quality daily care, husbandry, and behavioral advancement of a defined portion of The Living Desert’s (TLD) animal residents and habitats.

The Animal Care Department is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.”  The team embraces a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture. The Animal Care team strives to be a strong, cohesive team working to deliver uncompromising excellence in animal care, welfare, and guest engagement while working for the greater good of the zoo and its mission. Each Animal Care Keeper is encouraged to lead from where they are, bring innovative ideas forward and provide a high level of well-being for each individual in their care.

Animal Care Keeper- Australian Adventures

The Animal Care Keeper- Australian Adventures oversees animals on one focused string and area (with cross-training opportunities), and supports the Animal Department’s culture of providing conservation connections with our guests through demonstrating the natural behaviors of the animals. We are looking for a candidate to work with a small team in the dynamic and innovative Australian Adventures area. Recognized with the Significant Achievement Exhibit Award from AZA, this area has reimagined guest experience and how some traditional ambassador animals are managed through its habitat design. This candidate will be primarily focused on the wellbeing management of Bennett’s wallaby, Yellow-footed rock wallaby, echidna, brush-tailed bettong, tawny frogmouth, laughing kookaburra, emu, and a flock of budgies (with more species to come!).

This is a key guest interactive position that requires an outgoing, creative, confident, self-motivated team player who is willing to make a significant commitment to the organization.  This position requires an enthusiastic individual with strong guest engagement skills, and the ability to work in a fast-paced work environment. This individual must value fun and have some prior experience with animals in a guest setting.  

This position is also expected to cross-train throughout Wild Americas/Africa sections making communication, problem solving, and excellent animal care standards a must and may include working with a variety of small and large carnivores, Mexican wolf, striped hyena, Peninsular pronghorn, avian species (including birds of prey), a variety of reptiles (including venomous) and more. This area is also in planning for Lion Ridge- a dynamic African lion and small carnivore habitat which presents a unique experience for staff in this development.

This team member should foster enthusiasm, demonstrate strong guest engagement skills, have an energetic presence, and be able to work in a fast-paced environment. The Animal Care team demonstrate skills in both formal and informal presentations throughout the park, taking the time to interact with guests and provides excellent animal care through enriching experiences and habitat management practices.

Duties will include, but are not limited to, learning the husbandry and care of mammals, reptiles, and birds using operant conditioning in the behavioral husbandry of animals to improve their wellbeing, communicating the mission of The Living Desert to guests through public keeper connections, maintaining records, and using USDA guidelines to prepare diets. This position reports directly to the Assistant Curator of Wild Americas/Africa.

This posting is a summary of the typical duties of the role, not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks, and duties.


  • Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner

  • General knowledge of zoological animal husbandry, natural history, and observational skills

  • Ability to use critical thinking skills to trouble shoot issues and reveal solutions to move the animal team forward



  • Diet/meal preparation, feeding and restocking of feed supplies as needed and as prescribed

  • Daily cleaning and general maintenance of animal habitats, service areas, holding units, and support areas utilizing various tools, instruments, disinfectants; and with the ability to do so safely 

  • Continue education on the animal residents; research scientific journals, create environments that induce breeding and welfare goals and recommended habitat design options



  • Participates with daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning, and enriching experiences of the animal collection

  • Condition behaviors for animal management and welfare advancement, and educational programming according to accepted training culture



  • Ability to provide and accept feedback professionally and effectively

  • Strong organizational and communication skills with the ability to accurately report daily information written, orally and with computer programs


Guest Engagement:

  • Excellent guest service and communication skills for effective and engaging public speaking; Gives knowledgeable and engaging tours/talks for guests, staff, and donors

  • Participate in guest education programs on or off-site, formal, and informal animal presentations, scheduled and impromptu keeper talks and provide accurate, effective, and engaging presentations; Assist Animal Care Curator or Director of Animal Care with development of connection messaging.



  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals under the Two Key/Two Lock/Two Keeper and Lock Out Tag Out Engineering Control systems

  • Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others, and animals

  • Ability to remain calm and professional in the event of an unpredictable situation and follow through until situation is over

Physical Position Description:

ESSENTIAL PHYSICAL TASKS: Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting up to 50lbs.

TYPICAL WORKING CONDITIONS: Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, and dust/airborne materials. Work with potentially dangerous animals (i.e. large ungulates, carnivores, venomous animals).

HOLIDAY WORK: Holiday and weekend work required.

TRAVEL: Occasional conference and workshop attendance available if funding available. Some or all expenses paid.

To apply for the current open position: Please visit the Living Desert website to fill out an online application at Qualified applicants must submit a cover letter, resume, and three (3) references. The cover letter should include how you will be key in moving the Animal Care Department and The Living Desert mission forward. For additional information, please contact Heather Down (Animal Care Curator) or Luke Krider (Assistant Animal Care Curator) The position will remain open until filled.

Experience Required

Qualifications: AA, AS,BA, or BS degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree preferred. One year of exotic paid animal experience is also preferred. • Experience with animal training and public presentations a plus • Will substitute training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skill, and abilities • Must be insurable on The Living Desert's automobile policy • Must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 including booster if eligible


Benefits: • Starting Pay: $19.22/hr after July 1. • Paid time off and sick leave • Employee health care package covered by TLD • Yearly stipend for work footwear • Opportunity to participate in 8hrs of TLD conservation project work



How to Apply

Through our website in Careers Page.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
47900 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone: 7603465694

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