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Animal Keeper

Posted: December 7, 2023 Expired: February 18, 2024
Santa Barbara Zoo
Santa Barbara
High School 1 Year
  • Voluntary Insurances
  • Conservation Day
  • Zoo Day
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • 403(b) Retirement Plan
  • SEP Retirement Plan
  • Company parties
  • Dental insurance
  • Employee discounts
  • Free food & snacks
  • Free uniforms
  • Health insurance
  • Opportunity for advancement
  • Paid time off
  • Training & development
  • Vision insurance
  • Wellness resources
Immediate Opening!

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

In this role, you will work with a diverse range of taxa, including mammals, birds, and ectotherms. You will be responsible for husbandry, maintaining naturalistic exhibits, and ensuring the highest standards of animal care and well-being. The ideal candidate would also welcome the challenge of participating in the zoo’s local field conservation activities including California condor, island fox, as well as local bird and ectotherm species.

Key Responsibilities:

· Provide exemplary husbandry and care for a variety of animals, both large and small.

· Maintain and enhance naturalistic exhibits, creating a safe and stimulating environment for the animals, focused on demonstrating natural behaviors.

· Actively participate in on-grounds or local field conservation activities, contributing to initiatives involving California condor, island fox, and local ectotherm species.

· Collaborate closely with the Animal Care & Health team, reporting to a Zoological Manager and the Director of Animal Care.

· Engage with the public through educational programs and public speaking engagements.

· Ensure the safety and well-being of both animals and team members in a strenuous work environment that may require lifting up to 50lbs as needed, navigate uneven surfaces, reaching overhead, climbing and other physical requirements.


· Minimum of 1 year experience in working at an AZA accredited facility or similar facility with a variety of taxa.

· Experience with animal husbandry, exhibit maintenance, and behavioral enrichment.

· A commitment to wildlife conservation and an eagerness to engage in local field conservation activities.

· Strong teamwork ethic and personal accountability.

· Excellent public speaking and communication skills.

· Physical fitness to handle the demands of the position.

Experience Required

Bachelor’s degree in Life Science, or graduation from two-year college program focused on captive animal husbandry. Experience in routine animal husbandry in a zoo, aquarium or closely related activity or facility.

Previous work experience in an AZA accredited facility is preferred.

Wage Ranges: Apprentice Keeper $18.90-$19.70/hour DOE, or Keeper: $18.90-$19.70/hour DOE

Schedule: 5 days a week based on business need, generally with Tues/Wed off - 40 hours/work week


Great team, beautiful grounds, great animal collection, sunshine & ocean view almost year-round! Comprehensive benefits package, incl. voluntary supplemental insurances, a paid conservation day, a paid zoo day to visit another AZA accredited institution, free guest passes, holidays and paid time off, discounts on food services and retail purchases as well as select special events, access to professional development through San Diego Zoo Global Academy platform and other resources, and much more...

If you are a dedicated, passionate, and experienced individual with a strong commitment to animal care and wildlife conservation, we encourage you to apply for the Dangerous Animal Keeper position on this portal, outlining your relevant experience and motivation for joining our team.



Under general direction of Zoological Manager, Director of Animal Care and V.P. of Animal Care & Health, 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
Please make sure to check your spam folder if you do not see an email response from the Zoo.

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.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is unable to sponsor applicants for work visas.
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