Senior Director of Animal Care-Woodland Park Zoo

Posted: 5 May 2024| Deadline: 31 May 2024 | Full-Time 


More than 1.3 million people visit Woodland Park Zoo each year. We connect people with wildlife and remind them of what’s at stake in our changing world. Our job is to motivate people to take action and provide them with the tools needed to join us in saving endangered species. Working for the zoo means upholding our mission, “To save wildlife and inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.” Apply today and show us how you zoo.

As our new Senior Director of Animal Care, we know you will be successful in this role because you are a:

  • Team Leader: You have strong leadership skills and a proven track record of exceptional talent management, engagement, and motivation of a diverse team of managers.
  • Excellent Communicator: Your strong communication skills, both verbal and written, make you the perfect spokesperson for the zoo when addressing media inquiries and participating in national committees and programs related to animal management.
  • Advocate: You can develop and implement policies and practices that prioritize the physical and psychological well-being of animals.
  • Innovator: You lead continuous improvement practices through partnerships, technology solutions, and ethical population management strategies.
  • Successful Accreditation Story: You have experience in ensuring compliance with all animal-related regulations, accreditations, and certifications such as AZA, American Humane, and USDA licensure.

about the role

The $133,780 annual starting pay is structured to be competitive and may extend up to the $173,914 midpoint of the annual range, reflecting our commitment to offering competitive compensation to qualified candidates.

  • The Woodland Park Zoo offers a comprehensive benefits package for fulltime staff including:
  • Medical, dental, and vision HMO and PPO plans for you and eligible dependents
  • 11 paid holidays and 2 personal holidays 
  • Accrue 12 vacation days and another 12 days of sick leave your first year
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) 
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 
  • Tuition reimbursement 
  • Free zoo membership that includes zoo admission and discounts after 90 days 
  • 4 complimentary tickets per year plus other discounts and perks  
  • Free staff parking 
  • 403(b) Retirement Plan 


  • Manage and motivate the Animal Care leadership team to lead the dedicated team in providing world-class care for our diverse animal residents.
  • Strategically focus on Animal Care programs and partnerships aligned with the zoo’s mission and long-range plan.
  • Set an example as a visible, transparent, and accessible leader, reflecting the zoo’s culture and values.
  • Recruit, hire, train, and mentor staff members.
  • Develop and lead a high-performing team by setting expectations and providing regular feedback.
  • Establish performance metrics and goals for the team, which includes conducting performance evaluations and provide guidance for improvement.
  • Develop strategic plans for animal management, health, and welfare, including measurable indicators of performance.
  • Coordinate conservation work with AZA programs, emphasizing ethical population management beyond Species Survival Plans.
  • Lead innovation through partnerships and technology solutions for animal welfare, health care, and population sustainability.
  • Support animal plans for construction and remodeling, ensuring proper care, welfare, and population management.
  • Represent the zoo at national and international professional organizations, actively participating and leading AZA programs.
  • Collaborate with operational leaders for revenue-generating animal experiences, emphasizing DEAI goals.
  • Design, track, and manage multiple projects, including construction, with a focus on deadlines and measurable outcomes.
  • Develop and maintain an impartial Animal Management and Welfare Concern Process for addressing concerns.
  • Ensure compliance with animal-related regulations, including AZA accreditation, American Humane certification, and USDA licensure.
  • Manage budgets for Animal Management, Health, and Welfare, handling expenses and revenues.
  • Engage in fundraising with the Development Department to advance the zoo’s mission.
  • Stay informed about scientific developments, and foster research.


  • Bachelor’s (B.A. or B.S) degree in a liberal arts or life sciences related field from an accredited educational institution and ten (10) or more years of experience in zoo animal care including animal health, welfare, or population sustainability programs.
  • Demonstrated success in building partnerships with other zoos, animal providers, government agencies, local communities, academic partners and others to develop and implement animal management initiatives.
  • Ability to inspire, motivate, and marshal resources throughout entire organization to advance animal care and welfare goals.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office products, particularly Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams.
  • A valid Washington State driver’s license (or the ability to obtain one).
  • Successful applicants must live and work in Washington State to perform this role.
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have a valid WA driver’s license with a safe driving history.


  • Working knowledge of additional languages beyond English.
  • Knowledge of and experience with project tracking practices and software.
  • Research experience and a publication record in related fields.
  • Experience reviewing and managing complex grants.
  • Graduate degree in biology, zoology, geography, conservation sciences or related fields, (PhD, DVM or Masters).
  • Currently authorized to work in the US or meets the criteria for an O-1 Visa sponsorship.

selection process


Given the small industry, the selection process will ensure candidate information is kept confidential.

Please include a resume with your application through our Zoo Careers site at Please be sure to list or upload copies of all relevant training and certifications on your application. The zoo may review existing application pools to fill this position or use this pool to fill future vacancies. 

This opportunity is open to all candidates that meet the qualifications.

Woodland Park Zoo values diverse perspectives and life experiences. Applicants will be considered regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The zoo encourages people of all backgrounds to apply, including people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, 2SLGBTQ, people with disabilities, veterans, and those with diverse life experiences. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in all its services. If you need accommodation in the application or interview process, please contact our recruiting team at

Screening: We will review applications and select some candidates for screening calls. Final candidates will be invited for virtual or in-person interviews.

Offer: Job offers are contingent on the verification of credentials and other information required by the employment process including the completion of a background check. In addition, this role requires the applicant to successfully complete a: driving record review, pre-employment physical, and pre-employment tuberculosis test.

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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