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Curator of Destination Discovery - (Full-Time)

Posted: January 20, 2024 Expired: February 17, 2024
Saint Louis Zoo
St. Louis
Bachelor Degree 5 Year

Saint Louis Zoo

Curator of Destination Discovery - (Full-Time)

Position: Fred Saigh Curator of Destination Discovery

Organization: Saint Louis Zoo located in Saint Louis, Missouri

Directly Reports to: General Curator

About the Saint Louis Zoo:

The world renowned Saint Louis Zoo is and AZA accredited institution dedicated to saving species and bringing people and wildlife together. Home to over 16,000 animals, many of which are endangered. Entry is free every day for everyone, an important part of our commitment to people and animals – always.

The Zoo is committed to the Three Keys (Animals Always, People Matter, and Operational Excellence) and Core Values (Community, Creativity, Openness, Integrity, and Life-Work Balance.

Learn more at:

About St. Louis, Mo:

From Explore St. Louis: “Urban explorer, outdoor adventurer, aficionado of family fun – no matter your travel persona, you’ll find plenty to do in St. Louis. The city is brimming with free, world-class attractions and boasts an arts-and-culture scene that’s second to none. Plus, fans of fresh air will be surprised and delighted by our flourishing public parks, miles of trails and exhilarating waterways. Sprinkle in a bit of our secret sauce – the warmth and hospitality of the residents – and you’ll discover that St. Louis dishes up undeniably epic travel experiences. Don’t take our word for it, though. Come and see for yourself.” Learn more at

Position Summary:

The Saint Louis Zoo is looking for a positive leader to serve as the Fred Saigh Curator of Destination Discovery to manage a diverse collection of animals and collabotate with our Conservation Education Department to create inspiring, educational and transformational early childhood and family programming. Learn more about Destination Discovery here:

This position will serve under the direction of the General Curator as part of the Zoo’s dynamic, kind, passionate and expert Animal Care team, led by the Vice President of Animal Care, and comprised of Animal Curators, Zoological Managers, Keeper staff, Animal Health, Animal Nutrition Services, and Life Support Services. 

We are seeking candidates with significant experience in the direct care of a wide variety of species and extensive knowledge and experience working with Ambassador Animals and early childhood and family programming. Candidates should have a strong managerial background and demonstrate a leadership style that fosters an atmosphere of inclusion, teamwork, innovation and safety. This leadership position will also promote the Zoo’s core values (Community, Creativity, Openness, Integrity, and Life-Work Balance). Ability to collaborate is a must, such as working closely with the animal health, research, conservation education and other zoo teams to provide the best animal welfare and contribute to environmental empathy and conservation efforts. In addition, this position will require project management skills and the ability to work closely with our core design team, Architect of Record and construction management as advisor. Skilled in active listening and strong written and oral communication skills are a must. 

Responsible for long-term planning and visioning of Destination Discovery, as well as the day-to-day operational management of the Destination Discovery team, the animals under their care, and the facilities and habitats in which they live. Should show experience in and be committed to assessing and improving animal well-being, through training, enrichment, social management, professional development and other approaches. In addition, this leadership position plays an important role in the Saint Louis Zoo’s goal to create a memorable guest experience, developing empathy for wildlife and wild places and to connect our community with our mission, animal care and conservation work.

This position will be coming in at the ground breaking of building the Saint Louis Zoo’s new Destination Discovery experience (construction to start in summer 2024 with a target opening of 2026) and will be integral in assisting in the development of the habitats and keeper areas during the construction phase, as well as collection planning, programming, SOP development and hiring of staff for Destination Discovery.


  • Supervises the work of the Zoological Manager and Animal Care staff as assigned. Responsibilities include leading, interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; supporting, rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems; ensuring compliance with contracted obligations. All to ensure they highest level of care for our staff and our animals.
  • Partner with our Conservation Education Department to plan, prepare, support, facilitate and evaluate public presentations on animal care and conservation in Destination Discovery.
  • Create animal care procedures and policies, including record keeping, behavioral husbandry, welfare assessments, communication plans, safety protocols, ambassador protocols, etc. 
  • Manage special animal care activities such as physical examinations, exhibit repairs and modifications.  
  • Assist VP and General Curator in annual budget creation for Destination Discovery and management of the budget throughout the year.
  • Oversee habitat design and repair process/implementation and partner with our Architecture and Planning and our Facilities Management teams.  
  • Represent the Saint Louis Zoo in internal and external partners, and in the media. 
  • Partner with Marketing, Events, PR, Philanthropy, Tours, Guest Services, etc. to aid in achieving Zoo mission, which may include conducting interviews or tours[RM1] .
  • Maintains or reviews logs of animal observations and/or daily operations; implements, develops and/or revises animal care standard operating procedures to ensure proper care, maintenance and safety of animals, their habitats and facilities.
  • Supports and/or directs animal-related projects (introductions, transfers, research, veterinary needs); offers significant support in emergency animal management.
  • Assists other Zoo personnel with habitat renovation or design of new exhibits and holding areas in accordance with modern zoological practices, AZA standards and guidelines, and USDA requirements.
  • Facilitates institutional core values throughout Destination Discovery area by assisting Human Resources in onboarding of new hires as well as through ongoing core value engagement and training with staff.
  • Communicates and collaborates with Veterinary, Animal Well-being, Research, LSS and Nutrition staff to advance animal care.
  • Serve as Curator in Charge at points in the week, may serve a role in native wildlife response, and/or emergency response.
  • May be required to perform the duties of an animal keeper, or ZM on an as-needed basis.
  • Assists marketing and development staff in promoting the Zoo's public image and attaining the Zoo's public relations and community service objectives.
  • Assists the VP and General Curator in maintaining contacts with individuals and organizations involved in promoting worldwide conservation ethics and goals.
  • Ability to travel to conferences, workshops, etc. for professional development required.
  • This job description is not intended to be all-inclusive; therefore, the employee may be required to perform other reasonably related duties as assigned by management.

Additional Expectations:

  • Curator must be dedicated growing and improving our Zoo’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion.
  • Represents management and demonstrates a commitment to the Zoo’s mission statement and its’ core values.
  • Curator must strive to decrease our environmental footprint to serve as models to our community to do the same through education and example.
  • Must be passionate about conservation and supporting research and willing to prioritize up to a quarter of their time to conservation efforts through our Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute.
  • Performs duties in a service-oriented manner.
  • Recognizes the needs of others and treats others with respect and dignity.
  • Maintains good work habits and adheres to the employee handbook and all policies and procedures.
  • Deal courteously and effectively with public and ensure all staff help to fulfill the guest promise.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a work environment free from discrimination and sexual harassment and supports the Zoo’s commitment to equal employment opportunities.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety and works with General Curator and Safety Officer as needed.
  • Demonstrates comfort in public speaking, good presentation skills when working with the zoo team, our public/community, Zoo Governance and other internal and external stakeholders.
  • Commitment to the Zoo’s Three Keys (Animals Always, People Matter, and Operational Excellence) and Core Values (Community, Creativity, Openness, Integrity, and Life-Work Balance.


  • Four-year Bachelor’s Degree in biology, animal science, wildlife management, zoology or other field of study applicable to zoo animal management required. Master’s degree a plus.
  • 5 year minimum of direct experience in the day-to-day care for animals in a zoo setting, with extensive knowledge of the care of animals, animal behavior and hazards of working with wildlife. Animal training and ambassador animal experience preferred.
  • At least 5 years of experience in the direct supervision in animal care management.
  • A working familiarity with AZA animal population management programs (SAFE, SSP, TAG, PMC, etc.). Leadership service as a studbook keeper, SSP coordinator, or Taxon Advisory Group committee member a plus.
  • Experience partnering and collaborating on development of education programs a plus
  • Demonstration of a high level of emotional intelligence and the ability to work as a positive team member.
  • Must have a working knowledge of AZA Accreditation Standards and USDA Animal Welfare Standards.
  • A working knowledge of zoonotic diseases and methods of preventing the spread of contagious disease
  • Proficient in ZIMS software, welfare assessments, and experience maintaining records and preparing reports
  • Habitat design, construction experience/planning and program development preferred
  • Valid Missouri Driver’s license or ability to obtain one is required.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform some of the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.  The employee frequently is required to stand, sit and walk for long periods. The employee must frequently lift and/or move up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.

Work Schedule:

Weekend days off will be Sunday-Monday. Ability to work a flexible schedule, on holidays, and evenings for animal procedures and events will be necessary at times.

Please submit cover letter and CV by Febuary 1, 2024.



How to Apply

Saint Louis Zoo
One Government Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63110

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