Deputy Director of Animal Care- Oregon Zoo

Posted: 27 March 2023 | Full-Time | Oregon, Portland 


The Oregon Zoo is seeking a passionate and strategic Deputy Director of Animal Care. This position is critical in delivering the zoo’s mission of “connecting our community to the wonder of wildlife to create a better future for all.”

About the Oregon Zoo:

Community supported since 1888, the Oregon Zoo provides exceptional experiences to our community to inspire them to create a better future for wildlife. From education programs to conservation efforts, the zoo is working to save species regionally and worldwide. With more than 1.2 million guests a year, the Oregon Zoo is the top paid cultural attraction in the Pacific Northwest.

Additionally, the zoo reaches audiences across the world with over 5 million social media followers.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized as a leader in animal care by our staff, volunteers, guests, and partners. One of the greenest zoos in the country, the Oregon Zoo is home to a state-of-the-art Veterinary Medical Center, on-campus endocrine lab, world-class elephant program, plus three new habitats – Polar Passage, Rhino Ridge, and Primate Forest.

The Deputy Director will join a dynamic and experienced leadership team and will lead the animal care division into the next evolution of animal programs and staff development. The Deputy Director will join the zoo during an exciting period of growth, providing strategic direction and vision for an updated campus plan and sustainable animal collection. Work at the Oregon Zoo is driven by six core values: community, empathy, innovation, dedication, curiosity, and optimism, and the Deputy Director of Animal Care will embody and reinforce these values for our teams and our audiences.

Top priorities for this role include providing strategic direction and innovation for the animal care division, collaborating with others to create an engaging and inspiring guest experience, supporting a sustainable animal collection, advancing and continually evaluating the exceptional welfare for all animals at the zoo, and elevating employee engagement through meaningful staff support and professional development. This position exercises considerable independent judgment within established guidelines and policies, with general direction from the zoo director to support the mission and strategic plan of the Oregon Zoo. Along with the Deputy Director of Operations and the Zoo Director, the Deputy Director of Animal Care represents the zoo at a public level in a professional and engaging capacity.

main duties and responsibilities

As the Deputy Director of Animal Care you will:

  • Collaborate with all divisions as a member of the senior leadership team to strategically develop plans, solutions, and processes to enhance zoo operations.
    Provide direct supervision of four Curators, the Head Veterinarian, and the Animal Welfare and Research Manager.
  • Perform all functions of the Zoo’s Director in their absence.
  • Establish, implement and monitor strategic direction, policies and procedures for the effective operation of the animal care, veterinary care, and welfare teams.
  • Mentor staff in animal care and welfare practices, endangered species recovery, research, record keeping, and animal health activities.
  • Collaborate with others to develop innovative means for daily care of the animal collection as well as in the design of new exhibits and long-term care plans that align with and enhance the Zoo’s education and conservation efforts.
  • Develop and implement systems for enhancing the physical and mental health of all individual animals within the Zoo’s animal population.
  • Support and develop the animal care leadership team by setting clear expectations, providing direct constructive feedback and professional development opportunities.
  • Assure operations are in compliance with all applicable laws, Animal Welfare Act standards, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation standards and related policies, as well as occupational health and safety procedures and practices.
  • Oversee development and implementation of the animal care budget, the maintenance of animal record keeping systems and government permits, staff recruitment processes, and performance evaluations.
  • Provide oversight of effective and ethical research, while ensuring animal welfare.
  • Oversee the administration of collective bargaining agreements and resolve contract disputes in collaboration with Human Resources.
  • Participate in fundraising activities in collaboration with Oregon Zoo Foundation, including donor cultivation tours to support zoo revenue goals.
  • Manage formal and informal presentations to other zoo divisions, volunteer groups, zoo visitors and the public.
  • Oversee animal acquisition and transfer practices to ensure they are in compliance with established zoo policies and the AZA Policy on Responsible Population Management and AZA Animal Programs recommendations by Species Survival Plans, Taxonomic Advisory Groups and others.

Attributes for Success:

  • Build and maintain trust with all team members and stakeholders through a transparent and participatory decision-making process.
    Positively impact the Oregon Zoo’s relationships within the AZA community.
    Inspire and engender trust in our community, our donor base, and our government officials through direct and authentic communication.
  • Utilize strong interpersonal skills to focus on the contributions of others, share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually. Demonstrate a self-motivated approach to problem solving which focuses on next steps and identifying opportunities for change and improvement.
  • Operate and participate in AZA programs and initiatives.
    Engage with coworkers and stakeholders in a professional demeanor, demonstrating consistency, sincerity, approachability, reliability, and empathy.
    Demonstrate knowledge of group dynamic subtleties and approach conversations and actions accordingly.
    Demonstrate clear, effective, and consistent listening and communication skills.


We will consider any combination of relevant work experience, volunteering, education, and transferable skills as qualifying unless an item or section is labeled required. Please be clear and specific about how your background is relevant.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree, or equivalent years of experience in zoology, biology, wildlife management, animal science or a related field;
    Seven to ten years relevant experience in the following areas:
  • Supervisory experience;
  • Experience in animal management
  • Experience in coordinating field conservation projects.
  • Any combination of education and experience that provides the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the classification duties and responsibilities

Preferred qualifications:

You do not need to have the following preferred qualifications/transferable skills to qualify. However, keep in mind we may consider some or all of the following when identifying the most qualified candidates. Your transferable skills are any skills you have gained through education, work experience, including the military, or life experience that are relevant for this position.

  • Advance degree in zoology, biology, wildlife management, animal science or a related field
  • Experience with a zoo animal collection
  • Experience in executive leadership overseeing department organizational goals, strategic planning and overall decisions making.

Diversity and inclusion:

At Metro, we’re committed to hiring a workforce representative of the communities we serve, recognizing that a diverse workforce strengthens our organization. We invest in employees by supporting equitable and inclusive hiring practices, employee policies and training programs.

COVID-19 vaccination requirement:

Metro is committed to ensuring the health and safety for our employees and our community. As a part of this commitment, Metro has implemented a vaccine requirement policy for employees, paid and unpaid interns and volunteers.

Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is considered a minimum qualification requirement for Metro job applicants. This proof will be requested during the hiring process.

If you require an accommodation under this policy for a medical condition or disability, or sincerely held religious belief, please email


If this statement is true for you, then you may be ineligible to apply:

If I was terminated for cause during any of my employment with Metro, or resigned in lieu of termination, I understand I may be ineligible for rehire for a minimum of 3 years.


Based on the Oregon Pay Equity Act requirements, Metro’s internal equity review process, and the candidates’ qualifications, the appointment will typically be made between $140,465.00 – $165,000 annually. The full- salary range for this position is $140,465.00 – $203,688.00 annually.

This position is not eligible for overtime and is non-represented by a union. It is classified as a Deputy Director. Classification descriptions are typically written broadly and do not include the specific duties and responsibilities of the positions.

how to apply

The application packet:

The application packet consists of the following documents. Please ensure that you upload these documents in your online application. Make sure your application is complete, missing any part of these items could result in an incomplete application and will not be moved forward in the recruitment.

  • Attachment of a resume

The selection process: We expect to evaluate candidates for this recruitment as follows. The selection process is subject to change.

  • Initial review of minimum qualifications
    In-depth evaluation of application materials to identify the most qualified candidates Consideration of top candidates/interviews
    Testing/assessments (if applicable)
    Reference check

Recruiter: Megan Warneke

More information may be found here. 

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

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