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Director of Live Animals

The Paleontological Research Institution and its Cayuga Nature Center is looking for an enthusiastic individual to oversee our Live Animal Department. This position is responsible for the oversight of the Live Animal Department at both the Cayuga Nature Center and the Museum of the Earth venues including husbandry, education, permit reporting, etc. This role works closely with the Animal Department team to address all needs within the department and improve upon existing animal husbandry and programming efforts.

Key responsibilities of this position include:

  • General oversight and direction for the Animal Department.
  • Overseeing and assisting in animal husbandry and ensuring that all animals needs are met.
  • Reporting and renewal of all state and federal permits.
  • Directly oversees and develops all educational offerings within the Animal Dept. while collaborating with the Animal Dept. team, including serving as an educator.
  • Collaborates both within and across departments.
  • This position is responsible for ensuring that the animal collection receives daily care, including weekends and holidays. This position will work with the Animal Department team to ensure coverage for animal care 365 days/year. This position must be willing to work weekends, evenings, and holidays as needed. 

Required Qualifications: 

  • The Cayuga Nature Center runs a 10-week summer camp program at our facility each year. Permitting for this camp requires all staff in the facility to pass a background check and be authorized to work with children under the age of 18.
  • Experience in providing Environmental or Wildlife Education &/or Interpretive programming in a non-formal education setting such as a nature center or zoo.
  • Comfortable working with a variety of animals both wild and domestic.
  • Experience leading teams and managing staff.
  • Teamwork mindset and ability to collaborate across departments.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Must be comfortable working outdoors in all seasons and weather conditions.

Desired Qualifications: 

  • Bachelor’s Degree in biology, wildlife management, zoology, or animal care related field.
  • 2 years experience in a relevant field.
  • Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification or higher, including CPR & AED (or willingness to obtain upon hire)

This is considered an essential position. Due to the nature of the work, the majority of work must be conducted on-site with limited opportunities to work remotely. 

The Paleontological Research Institution will require all persons hired as Director of Live Animals in our Cayuga Nature Center to show proof of having received a department of health approved Covid vaccine.  This temporary requirement is being instituted to protect the safety and health of PRI employees, and other persons that provide services to this operation and is designed to support the public health objectives of our community, provided this hiring requirement complies with NY State and Federal guidelines and directives. 

PRI seeks to recruit a diverse group of talented individuals and create an environment in which they can effectively work to advance our mission and to support our vision without discrimination on the basis of an individual’s age, sex, race, creed, color, national origin, degree of disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or veteran status. We are committed to ensuring all our visitors, program participants, supporters, staff, and volunteers feel valued and respected.

To apply please submit a resume & brief cover letter to Katie B-Newman, Associate Director for Nature Center Programs at Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.


About the Paleontological Research Institution:
The Paleontological Research Institution pursues and integrates education and research, and interprets the history and systems of the Earth and its life, to increase knowledge, educate society, and encourage wise stewardship of the Earth.

The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) was founded in 1932 by Gilbert D. Harris, a professor of geology at Cornell University. Today, PRI houses a collection of more than 7 million fossil specimens, one of the largest in the nation, and publishes scholarly and popular books and periodicals, including the oldest paleontological periodical in the western hemisphere (Bulletins of American Paleontology, begun in 1895). It has active educational outreach programs in Earth and environmental science that serve thousands of students, teachers, and the general public throughout the United States. PRI scientific staff conduct original research in paleontology, geology, evolutionary and marine biology, and science education.

PRI operates three public educational venues, all located on the west side of Cayuga Lake, north of the city of Ithaca, New York: the Museum of the Earth, an 18,000 square foot facility which opened in 2003; the Cayuga Nature Center, which uses its 120 acre site and historic main lodge to provide exhibits and programs that connect visitors to the living natural world and encourage wise stewardship of the Earth; and Smith Woods, a 32-acre parcel of old-growth forest located just outside the Village of Trumansburg.

PRI is an independent not‑for‑profit 501(c)3 organization chartered by the State of New York in 1936. PRI is formally affiliated with, but separate from, Cornell University.

Permanent, Full-time, Exempt

Salary Range: $45,000 – $50,000 

Benefits Package includes: Health care coverage, dental, life insurance, and retirement plan with employer contribution. 

Reports to Associate Director for Nature Center Programs