Keeper – Dartmoor Zoo

Posted: 21 November 2022 | Full-Time | Plymouth, UK


Dartmoor Zoo is looking for an experienced zoo keeper looking to develop their leadership and husbandry skills further, within this exciting animal collection

The position requires a dedicated individual who will take direction from the Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services, Animal Manager and Senior Keepers in carrying out the operations of the mammal, reptile, and avian areas of Dartmoor Zoo. This includes all aspects of animal husbandry, exhibit maintenance and holding area management. The position will assist with the development of the mammal, reptile, and bird training programme. The position will also be responsible for maintaining organised written records pertaining to health, feeding, water quality and behavioural observations.

This position will be fully accountable for animals and associated areas within assigned rounds. You will act as a leader and role model, as well as be an advisor and mentor on all aspects of husbandry procedures and protocols. This will include training and supervision of more junior staff, volunteers, placements, and project teams, as assigned.

the role

  • Position: Permanent
  • Hours: Full-time (37.5 hours per week) on a rota basis
  • Wage: Dependent on experience

duties and responsibilities

As a member of the animal care team, you will:

  • lead by example by being patient, kind, humble, respectful, selfless, forgiving, honest and committed when interacting with one another and guests
  • show kindness, consideration and empathy for animals, always looking for ways to improve on their care and welfare and to ensure that set standards are met
  • act as a resource and mentor for more junior keepers, trainee keepers, placements, and volunteers
  • monitor all individuals in the collection daily, reporting any abnormalities to the Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services and Animal Manager
  • provide for the needs of all animals in the bird, mammal, and reptile collection by performing habitat and off-show cleaning and maintenance, diet preparation, feeding, training and enrichment, among other duties
  • assist the veterinarian staff in the diagnosis, treatment, and extended care of sick or injured animals, or hand-rearing animals, including the administration of medication, physical therapy, and daily care including normal feeding and cleaning routines
  • prepare and continually enhance animal areas for aesthetic, reproductive, behaviour, and animal safety (i.e., perching material, nest boxes, “furniture”, live or artificial plants, etc)
  • assist the Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services and Animal Manager in reviewing, planning, and executing enclosure design alterations and assist with new builds
  • assist the Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services and Animal Manager in setting and maintaining high standards of animal husbandry and welfare
  • participate in the Training & Enrichment committee
  • keep work area(s) clean and organised and report any mechanical failures in a timely way
  • maintain accurate records pertinent to animal history, health, breeding, diet, water quality analysis, training activities, medical procedures and behaviour, and utilise record information for management activities 
  • capture, or assist in the capture, and restraint of any zoo animal for the purposes of diagnosis of illness, administration of medication, confinement for transportation, or the movement of animals between habitats
  • work with Education and Research team in the implementation of education and research programmes involving the animal collection
  • engage with the public to prevent undue harassment or injury to animals and to ensure the safety of the public, answering questions from the public about the animals
  • proactively attend formal and informal training to further develop your skills and knowledge
  • maintain knowledge of research and conservation initiatives in this and other zoological facilities
  • understand the zoo layout and general animal collection to respond quickly during animal emergencies and to assist guests
  • maintain and develop knowledge of species-specific enrichment and training protocols
  • monitor, evaluate and advise supervisors of working practices to ensure they are safe for personnel and animals alike
  • adhere to area specific standard operating procedures (SOP’s)
  • comply with all health and safety requirements as per Dartmoor Zoo’s health and safety manual, security directives and policies
  • assist supervisors in maintaining departmental policies and learn and maintain other relevant zoo policies
  • participate in and help prepare for zoo license inspections and other audits as required
  • assist in supporting pest control efforts by informing appropriate staff of any areas of concern
  • present daily shows and presentations for the public as needed
  • participate in Dartmoor Zoo related education, public relations and membership programmes including facility tours and lectures as needed
  • at the direction of the Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services, interact with and respond to public/media requests for information
  • maintain discretion with confidential information
  • perform other related duties as assigned.

Required qualifications and experience

To be successful in this role, you must have:

  • a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field (or 3 to 4 years of full-time animal care experience in a zoo or aquarium), with specific knowledge of animal husbandry and behavioural conditioning.
  • 4-6 years paid experience working with animals in a zoo or aquarium setting. Emphasis should be on animal care, habitat and holding area maintenance. (Note, domestic pets do not count).
  • a significant understanding of all species within the collection.
  • experience of performing husbandry tasks relating to care for species within the collection.
  • demonstrable discipline and have a history of a consistently high degree of work quality.
  • good written and oral communication skills.
  • knowledge and experience of word processing and spreadsheet software.
  • good knowledge of ZIMS
  • a valid driving licence with a good driving record.
  • the ability to work a flexible schedule which will include weekends and/or evenings and holidays.
  • the ability to travel when necessary.
  • the ability to respond to emergencies on an on-call basis.
  • good health and be capable of performing strenuous and/or heavy physical labour, and be able to work in all weather conditions.
  • COVID vaccinations (to reduce the risks to our vulnerable animals). 

It would also help if you have:

  • experience in the maintenance of aquariums, aquatic life support systems, and use of water quality testing equipment.
  • a first aid certificate.
  • a firearms licence.

how to apply

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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