Associate Vice President, Animal Care & Welfare – Dallas Zoo

Posted: 7 April 2022   |   Full-Time   | Dallas Zoo, Texas, United States 

The Organisation

Our Vision – Creating a Better World for Animals

The Dallas Zoo is committed to creating a better world for animals with a mission of engaging people and saving wildlife. The Zoo works to accomplish that mission by maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare and husbandry.

The Dallas Zoo is consistently rated as one of the top zoos in the country and is known for its innovative animal exhibits, outstanding animal care and welfare programs, and a committed and passionate team. The Zoo has highly regarded and recognized field conservation and research programs both regionally and globally, with an ever-increasing reach and impact.

The Role

Reporting to the Executive Vice President of Animal Care & Conservation, the Associate Vice President of Animal Care & Welfare (AVP) will play a key and critical role in fulfilling the Zoo’s mission of providing outstanding care and welfare for a rich and diverse collection at Dallas Zoo. The AVP will need to be a team-oriented leader, innovative thinker, and adept and strong communicator. This position leads and oversees three animal care teams, as well as animal behavior, training, and enrichment functions.  The AVP will have a total staff of 129 employees that includes a curatorial staff of five direct reports. In all aspects of this role, the AVP must have the big-picture vision, while being able to work together both with their teams and across the organization, to consistently implement strategies in support of the Zoo’s strategic goals.

It is essential that the AVP have the technical skills in, and knowledge of, the latest standards and best practices of animal husbandry. But equally important, this individual must possess outstanding leadership, team building, and people skills to adeptly lead, mentor, and support the team. The AVP must bring innovative thinking to implement high standards of care; decision-making skills to make the right but sometimes difficult decisions; and the ability to identify, monitor and respond to organizational needs. This role requires someone who is highly professional and ensures the Zoo is best in class and knowledgeable about current trends.

The AVP will uphold and instill the zoo’s core values:

  • A passion for our mission and profession. We provide exceptional care for our 2,000+ animals and their environments.
  • Supporting a WILDLY motivated team. The Zoo is a fun place to work and we approach our profession with passion, enthusiasm and a pursuit of excellence.
  • Providing a place for everyone. We embrace human diversity in our staff, guests and community partners.

The Zoo seeks a professional who is –

  • Committed to Mission – Understands and believes in the organization’s mission and has a passion to advance that mission for greater impact at the Zoo, in the community, and across the zoo profession
  • A Team Leader – Builds and maintains a high-performing organizational culture while growing and mentoring staff to their full potential
  • Forward Thinking – Can look both within their team, in the department, and across the organization, connecting the dots to propel the Zoo to new heights in its practices, gaining recognition as a leader in animal care and wellbeing
  • Connected to AZA – Can easily work with their colleagues throughout the profession to help advance the Zoo’s practices and enhance the its reputation in the zoo and aquarium field
  • Collaborative & Communicative – Able to build trust within and beyond their team, establish a transparent culture, and clearly share information which can help the team be more effective and efficient in their roles
  • A Listener –Is approachable and will listen and learn from their team, leveraging and celebrating their knowledge and expertise, and share learnings across the team and department
  • Flexible – Can easily adapt to changing needs and priorities of the team, collection, and organization and provide direction and support to get things done
  • Supportive and Inclusive – Creates an inclusive and welcoming organizational culture and is open to a wide variety of perspectives, thoughts, and ideas
  • Social Presence – Has a confident public presence and can represent the team and the organization in a variety of situations
  • Professional and Organized – Can handle organizational details including budgets, reporting, and ensure adherence to industry best practices and standards
  • Positive Attitude – Is easy to work with, has a sense of humor, and provides positive energy for the team

Job Functions

The successful candidate will have a proven record of success and experience with a diverse range of taxa. The ideal candidate must demonstrate commitment to build on the Zoo’s successful accomplishments to date and help the organization reach even higher. The AVP will, working with their team, have responsibility for:

  • Collections Care & Management
    • Develop and implement comprehensive collection plans for each department
    • Coordinate animal acquisitions and deaccessions in concert with the Zoo’s Institutional Collection Plan
    • Collaborate with veterinary staff in the medical care of animal collection
  • Professional Representation & Collaboration
    • Be an effective liaison with AZA animal programs, identifying and creating opportunities for the Zoo to provide greater leadership within the AZA community
    • Professionally represent the Zoo at professional meetings, conferences or in the media
  • Training & Safety
    • Implement training programs in all areas of animal care, facilities maintenance, and operation, including training in safety and security policies and serve as a member of the DZP Emergency Response Team
    • Oversee the development and implementation of safe, proper protocols for all aspects of care for the animal collection including: sanitation, health, nutrition, reproduction, behavior, and behavioral husbandry
  • Exhibit Management
    • Manage buildings, exhibits, holding areas and grounds of relevant areas, assisting in prioritization and coordination of needed maintenance
    • Be an active participant, providing ideas and input into the design and implementation of building renovations and new exhibit construction
  • Conservation & Research
    • Coordinate and conduct research, and/or produce popular or scientific papers concerning biology and captive management of wild animals
    • Provide leadership and perspectives on conservation strategies and how they link with the animal collection
    • Participate in conservation initiatives which support the Zoo’s goals 
  • Team & Department Management
    • Actively recruit animal care staff, working cooperatively with Curators and Zoological Managers to strategically maintain and develop a dynamic team of animal care professionals
    • Assist in developing and maintaining DZM’s ZIMS-based records system
    • Collaborate in production of interpretive graphics associated with animal exhibits
    • Identify and prioritize budgetary requests, including capital improvements, major maintenance, time and material projects, equipment, professional services, animal purchase and animal transportation
    • Administer those budgets, monitor expenses and prepare reports
  • Additional Requirements
    • Must be able to walk, stand, sit, kneel, stoop, crawl, twist, reach above head, pull bend, climb stairs and ladders and carry up to 50 lbs, and be able to work outdoors in hot or inclement weather
    • Must be able to work holidays and weekends, assuming and performing similar duties at regular and irregular hours as required
    • Successful candidates must pass pre-employment drug screening, background check and TB test
    • Must have a valid Class C driver’s license to operate Zoo vehicles and have reliable transportation.
    • Bachelor Degree Required; Advanced Degree Preferred

To Apply

The Dallas Zoo has retained Zoo Advisors to manage this search. To be considered for this excellent opportunity, please forward a single PDF document that includes your detailed resume and a cover letter expressing why you are interested in this role and how your experience can help the zoo can continue to strengthen its position as an animal care innovator and a leader in the AZA community. The ZA principals leading this project are David Walsh and Dr. Eric Miller.

Kristin Elliott
Project Consultant
Zoo Advisors


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