Associate Vice President of Animal Health & Welfare – Dallas Zoo

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

The Organisation

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 Operations & Conservation, the Associate Vice President of Animal Health & 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.

With the support of six direct reports (including three full-time Associate Veterinarians, one part-time Associate Veterinarian, Curator of Nutrition, and Director of Hospital Operations), the AVP will supervise a team of 26 staff: veterinarians, the nutrition department, veterinary technicians, and three hospital keepers.

The AVP will need the hands-on technical expertise and experience but also needs to be a collaborative team-oriented leader, innovative thinker, and adept and strong communicator. They will need to work closely with their team, across the Animal Care and Conservation Division, and across the Zoo’s four other divisions.

It is essential that the AVP have the technical skills in, and knowledge of, the latest standards of clinical medicine and research. But equally important, this individual must possess the people skills to adeptly lead, mentor, and support their team. The AVP must bring best practices 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 –

  • Experienced in Clinical Medicine – The candidate must be experienced in multiple diagnostic and treatment modalities
  • 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, health and wellbeing
  • Connected to AZA – Can easily work with their colleagues throughout the profession to help advance the Zoo’s practices and enhance its reputation in the zoo 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 division
  • Supportive and Inclusive – Creates an inclusive and welcoming organizational culture and is open to a wide variety of perspectives, thoughts, and ideas
  • 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

  • Diagnose and treat sick or injured animals in conjunction, and when necessary consult, with other outside experts. Identify pathology services for the Zoo animal collection.
  • Maintain a regular preventive medicine program for the animal collection of the Zoo and Aquarium, including preshipment exams & testing, quarantine, regular exams, vaccinations, fecal parasite exams, contraception, nutrition, and post-mortem exams.
  • Serve on-call for emergency duty on a rotational basis with the Associate Veterinarians.

Team Management

  • Direct and lead the work of Animal Health department professional and technical staff involved in providing animals’ medical and health care services.
  • Prioritize and assign work, conduct performance evaluations and ensure staff training to enhance job skills and provide opportunity for advancement. Responsible for making hiring, termination and disciplinary recommendations.
  • Develop, interpret, and enforce policies and procedures to assure compliance with health and safety regulations including Zoo procedures and protocols to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the animal collection.
  • Monitor and supervise Animal Nutrition department.
  • Oversee Emergency Immobilization Team & ensure staff readiness via participation in regular target practice and drills.
  • Advise senior and animal management staff members concerning animal husbandry, nutrition, and exhibit design as it relates to the health and medical care of the collection.

Professional Representation & Collaboration

  • Develop and maintain working relationships with specialists in human and veterinary medicine to supplement in-house capabilities.
  • Willing to participate in conservation and research projects, locally, regionally and internationally.
  • Represent the zoo at annual conferences with presentations and produce and submit case studies and original research manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals.
  • Serve on professional organization assigned committees.
  • Review and approve proposed research projects and biosample requests in conjunction with the Animal Care and Conservation Departments.

Organizational Management

  • Oversee operation, maintenance, and upkeep of the hospital and all quarantine facilities, as well as all essential equipment in conjunction with the Director of Hospital Operations.
  • Develop budget for the Animal Health Departments and monitor budgetary expenditures, revenues and purchase orders.
  • Ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations and accreditation guidelines relating to animal care, husbandry, and shipments (including USDA and AZA), and participate in inspections as appropriate.

Technical Requirements

  • Must be a ​graduate of an AVMA-accredited College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Must be ACZM-accredited or ACZM eligible. 
  • Must have and maintain excellent surgical and medical skills, including experience with general anesthesia in a broad range of taxa.
  • Must be proficient in advance diagnostic modalities, including ultrasonography and rigid and flexible endoscopy.
  • Minimum of five years full-time clinical zoological medicine experience and graduation from an AVMA-accredited school of veterinary medicine required. ACZM Board Certification eligibility is preferred.
  • Must have valid driver’s license, Texas Department of Public Safety and DEA controlled substances registrations.
  • Must be licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Texas within 6 months of start of employment.
  • Must be able to obtain and maintain USDA/APHIS accreditation.

The Dallas Zoo will offer a competitive compensation and benefit package commensurate with experience.

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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