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Leader of Animal Wellbeing

Posted: May 25, 2024 Expired: November 27, 2023
San Antonio Zoo
San Antonio
3 Month

San Antonio Zoo

Open year-round, securing a future for wildlife!

Leader of Animal Wellbeing

Leader of Animal Wellbeing

Collaborate with a passionate Zoo Crew in San Antonio
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 Leader of Animal Wellbeing is responsible for overseeing San Antonio Zoo’s wellbeing program, including but not limited to animal safety, behavioral management, enrichment, and public engagement.  Assists in maintaining the Animal Wellbeing Program including the oversight and recording of wellbeing assessments and serving on the wellbeing committee. In conjunction with animal care and wellbeing leadership, they will be primarily responsible for a standardized wellbeing program, improving the health and wellbeing of all San Antonio Zoo animal populations.

The Leader of Animal Wellbeing will coordinate habitat design and construction planning, and zoo-controlled environmental changes to meet and exceed standards required for optimal species-appropriate wellbeing.  This position works directly with Animal Care Specialists, Animal Care Managers, Animal Health Staff, Conservation team, and the Nutrition and Education departments, in assessing, developing, implementing, and evaluating husbandry practices that enhance the daily animal experience of all collection animals utilized for education or display purposes. This position helps to create ongoing training and professional development opportunities for staff to promote continuous learning and innovation to meet and exceed AZA and zoo standards of animal care and wellbeing.

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.  Position title and salary commensurate with experience.

As the Leader of Animal Wellbeing, 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:
  • Promote a common understanding of animal wellbeing throughout the zoo.
  • Oversee all aspects of behavioral husbandry, training and enrichment, and the coordination of public presentations consistent with AZA accreditation standards.
  • Maintain appropriate record-keeping, meeting or exceeding the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) standards.
  • Oversee and implement zoo-wide enrichment activities, including research, establishing goals, scheduling, acquisition and fabrication of enrichment materials and devices, evaluation, and documentation.
  • Assist in identifying and applying best practices in animal wellbeing.
  • Facilitate the proactive identification of potential animal wellbeing concerns and the development and application of appropriate measures to prevent or correct their occurrence.
  • Provide a clearly defined process by which welfare questions or concerns are reported, documented, researched, and addressed; and for any decisions or outcomes to be reported back to staff, volunteers, or public.
  • Ensure wellbeing concerns are reviewed by more than one entity (i.e., not just the direct manager) to increase awareness of issues and provide greater expertise and feedback to staff and volunteers.
  • Support and encourage animal care leadership to discuss animal wellbeing issues with staff and volunteers, and clearly articulate how issues will be addressed.
  • Encourage and support the development and implementation of research, assessment tools, and practices to advance and monitor animal wellbeing.
  • Educate and engage animal care staff in applying wellbeing assessment tools and best practices.
  • Collaborate with animal care leadership to ensure staff is continuously providing comprehensive care that promotes physical, emotional, and social well-being, and cognitive complexity.
  • Monitor changes and trends in the field to include behavior training and enrichment, focusing on enhancing wellbeing.
  • Participate in behavioral observations with animal care teams. Enhance staff knowledge of operant conditioning techniques and how to apply them
  • Make recommendations regarding enrichment, habitat modifications, diet adjustments, husbandry changes, and related matters to improve welfare and take steps to accomplish those goals.
  • Oversee zoo wide operant conditioning training activities including establishing goals, developing training plans, evaluation, and documentation.
  • Establish and maintain positive, cooperative, and effective working relations with fellow employees.
  • 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.
  • Communicate effectively in writing and orally with the public, team members, curators, volunteers, and health care staff.
  • Required to interact effectively daily with zoo guests and all levels of zoo staff.
  • Uphold all company policies.
  • Consistently 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 the animals we protect.

Performs other work-related duties as required and 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:
  • Bachelor's degree in wildlife management, zoology, biology, or related field is preferred.
  • Five years of experience with extensive, progressive exotic animal care, behavior, and husbandry in an AZA-accredited institution, or in an institution with equivalent standards
  • Demonstrable experience in the evaluation of animal wellbeing, behavior modification, and enrichment programs
  • Three years of supervisory experience is preferred.
  • Minimum three years relevant experience in the application of operant conditioning training and enrichment in a zoo or aquarium setting.
  • Knowledge/familiarity with AZA accreditation standards, code of ethics, and representative husbandry standards.
  • Familiar with AZA or other captive population management programs and basic knowledge of research techniques and practices
  • Familiarity with TRACKS collection management software.
  • Must have strong leadership skills, excellent communication skills, and a proven ability to foster positive relationships with co-workers.
  • Must be able to interact effectively daily with zoo guests and all levels of zoo staff.
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision, with individual assignments determined by the VP based on current workloads and department needs.
  • Strong leadership skills, excellent communication skills, and a proven ability to foster positive relationships with co-workers.
  • Perform other job duties requiring skills, knowledge, and physical requirements as demanded by, but not limited to those duties described.
  • Excellent public speaking skills and the ability to deliver educational presentations, animal encounters, tours, and potential media requests.
  • Ability to work safely around delicate, wild, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous animals.
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment in analyzing animal behavior concerns or emergency situations, and to respond with the appropriate action.
  • Proficiency with several common software packages utilizing word-processing, presentations, spreadsheets, etc.
  • 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.
  • Successful candidates must complete a pre-employment National Sex Offender Search, Criminal Background Check, Drug Screen, and TB.
  • We enjoy year-round operation for all staff, must be available days, nights, weekends, and occasional after-hour assignments.
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.


Commensurate with experience

How to Apply

San Antonio Zoo
3903 N St Mary's St
San Antonio, TX 78212
Phone: 210-874-2859

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