Curator – Dartmoor Zoo

Posted: 18 August 2021   |   Full-Time   | Dartmoor Zoo, United Kingdom | Deadline to apply: 8 September 2021

Introduction to Dartmoor Zoo

Dartmoor Zoo is set in 33 acres of beautiful wooded countryside on the edge of Dartmoor, in a small village called Sparkwell, just 20 minutes from the city of Plymouth. Plymouth itself has excellent travel links to the rest of the country and is known as the Ocean City of the country.

The charity, Dartmoor Zoological Society, operates Dartmoor Zoo. Its vision is to inspire and empower people to achieve a future in which no animal species faces extinction through human action.

It aims to promote the conservation, care and breeding of wildlife and endangered species, encouraging and developing public interest in and awareness of the importance of ensuring the survival of species and the diversity of life. It aims to raise awareness and funds for animal conservation, welfare and education projects and to support conservation in the wild and across the world.

Job description - Curator

Based: Dartmoor Zoo, Sparkwell, Devon, PL7 5DG, United Kingdom
Salary: £33,000 to £35,000 per annum depending on experience
Hours: full time (37.5 hours per week)
Reporting to: Deputy CEO

Purpose of Job
As Curator you will be responsible for the care and management of the entire animal collection at the charity, managing a team of dedicated keepers and being a member of the Senior Management Team. You will work closely with the board to complete and be a critical player in fulfilling the next 10-year master plan.
Key Relationships


You will have 8 direct reports and a combined responsibility for approximately 52 employees as part of the Senior Management Team.


You will be responsible for managing a set budget per annum.

Your fellow Senior Management Team:

Chief Executive Officer, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Head of Finance, Head of Maintenance, Head of Compliance and Resources, Education and Research Manager and Head of Catering, Retail and Events.

Main activities
  1. Animals:
    • Have oversight of the animal collection and management strategies for the species maintained at DZS.
    • Set and hold staff to account for their standards in animal care, welfare and enclosure presentation.
    • Oversee the monitoring of all animal behaviour
    • Provide additional animal care as necessary, beyond the routine, such as to attend sick animals as required.
    • Co-ordinate, and assist with the capture and restraint of animals, for enclosure movement, veterinary examination or export from the collection, while minimising stress and ensuring the maximum amount of information is collected during each event.
    • Act as Registrar. Ensure accurate records of animal movements, births, deaths, transactions, reproductive and behaviour are kept, ensuring a full set of data is available for each animal to facilitate future management and research.
    • Be up to date on, and be able to cover for different animal rounds if necessary to prevent any breakdown in procedures due to staff days off, illness or holiday leave of staff members within the department.
    • Implement and oversee the management of:
      • breeding programmes;
      • enrichment programmes;
      • animal monitoring programmes;
      • care plans;
      • behavioural monitoring;
      • animal management techniques.
    • Ensure staff maintain high standards of cleanliness in all animal enclosures, public viewing areas, ‘off view’ facilities, food preparation and storage rooms.
    • Report to the Ethics Committee on a regular basis and operate within the Zoo’s Ethics Policy.
    • Be the veterinary main point of contact. This includes preparing for all vet visits, ensuring accurate medical records, planning tests, quarantine requirements, vaccinations, contraception as needed, maintaining medical stock on site.

  2. Staff Management:
    • Lead the animal department team, comprising of keeper staff at all levels, plus students, and volunteers.
    • Ensure the smooth running of the department by providing logistical support and rostering, and in resolving staff issues if required.
    • Manage staff (including regular team meetings and recruitment) and monitor their respective performance (including appraisals and regular reviews), ensuring they have appropriate training and career development opportunities.
    • Attend national scientific meetings and ensure keep up to date on the latest changes in the zoo industry and communicate this to all team members.
    • Meet regularly with the animal department staff to ensure any necessary information is passed on for the day to day running of the department.

  3. Senior Management Team:
    • Act as the duty manager of the Zoo by rota;
    • Work with the CEO and the Trustees to:
      • develop and implement the collection plan, suggesting new animals for the Zoo and acquiring the agreed animals;
      • supervise the exhibit designs to make sure animal needs are met;
      • ensure the safety of all employees, volunteers and visitor.
    • Work with other senior management to discuss all aspects of running the Zoo and to pass on key information to all other relevant staff. Where appropriate raise issues to the DZS trustees.
    • Facilitate zoo licence compliance.

  4. Health and Safety:
    • Working with the designated Health and Safety Manager, facilitate health and safety protocols. Ensure the animal team adhere to safe working practices and maintain accurate records.
    • Be familiar with all aspects of DZS’s Codes of Practice, Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice and the Zoo Forum Handbook and ensure that the Zoo operates to these standards.
    • Prepare and regularly review risk assessments and maintain up-to-date protocols for safe working. Adhere to prescribed safety and emergency procedures to ensure the safety of animals, staff and the visiting public.
    • Facilitate emergency drills and ensure that the correct responses are adhered to in all aspects of the coded emergency system.

  5. Communication:
    • Communicate at all levels, dealing knowledgably and helpfully with the public, the media, VIPs and professional bodies, and promote the work of DZS. Liaise with the vet and develop relations with other collections.
    • Participate in / organise tours and talks on DZS’s work for visiting colleagues, scientists and students and public engagement.

Person Specification




A degree in zoology, wildlife biology or a related field.

A master’s degree or doctorate is preferred although not required.

A record of relevant peer-reviewed publications and presentations.



Have held a senior zoo management position.

Ideally have experience in multiple zoo collections.

Have good connections with studbook keepers.



Demonstrable evidence of a commitment to, and knowledge of, the conservation, health and welfare of wild animals, including through long term affiliations and memberships.

Be familiar with all aspects of zoo codes of practice, SSSMZP and the zoo forum handbook.

Have knowledge and experience of zoo Health and Safety regulations.


Skills and Abilities

Communication: be able to clearly and effectively write and explain care guidelines for animals, as well as other zoo regulations.

Interpersonal: be able to coordinate with veterinarians, keepers, other zoo workers, and external  organisations.

Leadership: have excellent management skills to lead employees and make decisions about animal care and exhibits.

Physical strength and dexterity: there will be direct contact with animals, so you must be able to work with them and help as needed.


Other requirements

A current UK firearms license, or ability to fulfil the necessary criteria to obtain one is desirable.

Hold a driving licence and have the ability to drive zoo vehicles as required.

Be flexible in your work schedule to cover longer hours, night and weekend hours when necessary.  Expect to work in both an office and on the grounds of the zoo itself.


The Package

We recognise how important our employees are and by working at DZS you become part of the family! We are committed to equal opportunities and employing a diverse workforce.

In addition to competitive salaries, benefits include:
  • Holiday: 22 days plus Bank Holidays
  • Complimentary zoo tickets for family and friends
  • A defined Contribution Pension Scheme
  • Discounts in our restaurants and shop
  • Discounts on holiday programs for children
  • Discounted Chiropractor Treatments

How to apply

Please fill in the Dartmoor Zoo Application Form on our website, highlighting your relevant skills, knowledge and experience (

Send your completed form to Clare Lee ( by close of Wednesday 8th September 2021.

If you have any questions or would like an informal discussion, please call 01752 837645.

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