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Director of Animal Care

Reid Park Zoological Society is seeking a Director of Animal Care.  Bachelor’s degree in zoology, biology, animal husbandry, or related field.  Five years of progressively more responsible management experience at an AZA or equivalent facility is required including a minimum of 3 years in a management or staff leadership capacity.

The Society is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to create inspiring memories for all by connecting people and animals to ensure the protection of wild animals and wild places.  We provide educational and fun experiences for visitors of all ages. Reid Park Zoo is the largest attended cultural attraction in Southern Arizona with approximately 500,000 visitors annually.  Be a part of a vibrant, growing organization as Reid Park Zoo implements an exciting master plan that will be investing over $60M in new exhibits over the next ten years.

No phone calls or visits please.  This position is open until filled.  We are an Equal Opportunities Employer.  We are committed to attracting and retaining a diverse staff by creating an inclusive environment.


This position is a key part of the management team at Reid Park Zoo, providing strategic direction and vision for the Zoo to create an inspiring and engaging guest experience, support a sustainable animal collection, achieve the highest level of animal well-being for all animals at the Zoo, and elevate employee engagement.  This position oversees the areas of animal care, veterinary care, and animal wellbeing.  This position will represent the zoo to the public in a professional and engaging capacity. This position is responsible to ensure compliance with Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation standards and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other regulatory requirements.

Reports To:   President and CEO


Animal and Veterinary Care

Oversees animal care including veterinary care and animal well-being throughout Reid Park Zoo. Develops and implements long range strategic plan based on zoo’s strategic direction in alignment with Reid Park Zoo’s mission focusing on animal care and well-being, sustainability of the animal collection, and education and conservation goals.

Oversees the development and implementation of long-range animal collection planning based off Reid Park Zoo’s strategic direction, animal care and welfare, education and conservation goals while incorporating the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) programs;

Oversees the animal acquisition, disposition and transfer practices to assure they are in accordance with established Zoo initiatives and policies, AZA Policy on Responsible Population Management and AZA Animal Programs recommendations by Species Survival Plans (SSPs), Taxonomic Advisory Groups (TAG) and others

Oversees the direction and development of animal husbandry, animal engagement and outreach, behavior training and enrichment programs; oversees the development of engaging animal exhibit concepts and plans that reflect Reid Park Zoo strategies; works closely with the Reid Park Zoo’s Development and Marketing departments to raise the profile of the Zoo’s animal programs including representing the Zoo to the public, media, staff, volunteers, and others and to identify and take advantage of grants, donor gifts, and other funding opportunities.

Zoo Operations

Ensures accurate recordkeeping and information systems for current and historical animal records including transactions, health records, and records needed to provide data for animal care and that all licensing/permit reports are filed and maintained.

Assures that zoo operations comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Collaborate with City of Tucson law enforcement, safety and fire divisions and zoo safety professionals to ensure compliance with occupational health and safety procedures and practices and emergency preparation.

Assures compliance with American Zoo and Aquarium Association accreditation standards and related policies and maintenance of USDA and other licenses.

Responds to zoo operational issues and emergencies, determining appropriate action or resolutions.

Prepares department budgets in collaboration with zoo leadership; monitors expenditures and adjusts as appropriate; oversee controls to ensure expenditures are in legal compliance and within limits authorized through the budget.


Promotes a safety culture which is known and widely accepted throughout the organization, ensuring that best practices for safety are in place.

Leads the Safety Committee, ensuring regular meetings, engagement from all areas of the zoo.  Meetings should include evaluation of any safety concerns, developing ideas for improving safety and reviewing lessons learned.

Establishes, plans, helps develop, and facilitates training programs pertaining to animal care and safety for all staff who are involved.

Staff Management

Creates and supports a work culture that is supportive, promotes teamwork, employee engagement and development, and promotes transparent communication and productive problem-solving.

Works with HR to make decisions including hiring, employee relations, employment termination, advancement or promotion of staff.

  • Evaluates staffing on a regular basis.
  • Plans workload and schedules.
  • Provides opportunities for staff development, training and learning needs.

·         Provides annual performance evaluations to direct reports.

·         Provides mentoring, coaching and support for staff.

·         Directs the work of Animal Care division staff and responds to employee concerns or grievances.

  • Implements compliance measures including employment policies and local employment ordinances

Management Team Member

Has a key role in the short and long-range strategic and operational planning of Reid Park Zoo with the CEO and Management Team, participating in meetings as required.

Serves as key liaison to Board of Directors for items pertaining to animal care and animal health.

Other duties as assigned.

Preferred Qualifications, Skills and Abilities

  • Bachelor’s degree in zoology, biology, animal husbandry, or related field.
  • Five years of progressively more responsible management experience at an AZA or equivalent facility is required including a minimum of 3 years in a management or staff leadership capacity.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of animal transport, quarantine, animal health, exhibit design and husbandry, including operant conditioning in a positive reinforcement and protected contact system.
  • Strong interpersonal, team-building, and communication skills; must possess the ability to effectively partner with other departments, all levels of staff, and both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Complete knowledge of all phases of animal husbandry programs, exhibit design and display
  • Understanding of principles of interpretation and the processes of learning and teaching.
  • Highly collaborative and team oriented; exceptional written and public speaking skills; demonstrated leadership qualities; and ability to engage stakeholders to meet the Zoo’s conservation mission;
  • Proficiency in budget and finance matters to enable strong financial management of the department;
  • Ability to use basic office equipment and computer programs and familiarity with AZA and USDA requirements for animal records.
  • Please note that this document is not an exhaustive list. It is intended to give a reasonable idea of what might be required.

Consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is the policy of Reid Park Zoological Society to provide reasonable accommodation when requested by a qualified applicant or employee with a disability, unless such accommodation would cause an undue hardship. The policy regarding requests for reasonable accommodation applies to all aspects of employment, including the application process. If reasonable accommodation is needed, please contact the Human Resources Dept.