Trainee Keeper – Dartmoor Zoo

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


Dartmoor Zoo is looking for a trainee zoo keeper looking to develop their 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, Senior Keepers and 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 program. 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, and provide coverage for other areas as needed. This will include acting as an advisor and mentor on all aspects of husbandry procedures and protocols, and supervise volunteers, placements, and project teams, as assigned. As a trainee keeper, you will be expected to learn and improve your knowledge and skills daily.

the role

  • Position: Permanent
  • Hours: Full-time (37.5 hours per week) on a rota basis
  • Wage: £20,000 per year

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 new 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.
  • 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).
  • maintain high standards of animal husbandry and welfare.
  • 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, and behaviour.
  • 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 programs 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 develop your skills and knowledge.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 1-2 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).
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • knowledge of ZIMS.
  • a First Aid certificate.

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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