Assigned Relief Keeper

Organization: Philadelphia Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Country
Job or Internship: Job

Reports to Curator.Works as assigned within animal areas, under oversight of area Lead Keeper. Responsible for all aspects of daily animal care, including but not limited to cleaning, feeding, inspecting/observing specimens, maintaining exhibits, implementing veterinary, nutrition and enrichment programs, and record-keeping. Acquires and maintains appropriate knowledge about collection, Zoo policies and procedures, and facilities. Works in cooperation with curatorial staff and the Lead Keeper of the area to achieve established facility/operational standards. Interacts with visitors routinely and through formal programs.


Exhibit Maintenance

Cleans/disinfects animal enclosures and other animal-related areas in accordance with Zoo standards/policies and other identified standards of sanitation (e.g. USDA).

Within exhibits and other animal enclosures, maintains plants and maintains furnishings/features such as but not limited to perches, rocks, logs, nest-boxes/dens, pools, moats, etc. through replacement, installation or cleaning.

Maintains working knowledge of life support and other equipment in facility.

Nutrition Program

Prepares, distributes and records consumption of animal food in accordance with policies and procedures.

Implements species-appropriate variation in presentation of diet.

Assists in ordering, receiving, storing, moving and inventory of food and other supplied related to the nutrition program.

In areas where live food items are stocked, provides daily care and sanitary maintenance of colonies.

Facility Maintenance

Inspects exhibits and facilities, daily or per established procedures, and takes necessary action to assure that they are secure, clean, well-lit and properly heated and ventilated; promptly reports situations outside the control of keepers to the appropriate parties (e.g. curator, veterinarian, Maintenance).

Maintains cleanliness and organization of indoor and outdoor storage areas and other areas adjacent to animal facilities, as assigned.

Makes minor, routine and emergency repairs necessary to animal management and exhibition. For major repairs, completes necessary work orders.

May make recommendationsprovide input regarding design of Zoo exhibits and facilities and participate in installation/construction of exhibits and materials.

Is responsible for security of animals and facilities; promptly reports potential safety hazards affecting animals or humans to the appropriate parties (e.g. Lead Keeper, curator, Maintenance, Security).

Assists in emergency situations.

Prepares exhibits and buildings to meet established opening times.

Assists in ordering, receiving, storing, moving and inventory of supplies related to the care and maintenance of the Zoo collection and facilities.

Record Keeping/Communication

As per established protocols, enters information relating to changes in the collection, significant behavior or behavioral changes, breeding, diet, veterinary care, etc. on daily keeper reports and in animal record.

Through daily logs and/or other established mechanisms, communicates additional information important to other keepers working in the same building/area.

Provides information that may affect the health or well being of the animal collection to the appropriate supervisor, veterinarian, or nutritionist in an expedient manner.

Completes other written materials as requested, including AAZK data transfer, husbandry surveys, etc.

Maintains organization of and accessibility to records (animal, facility, maintenance).

Enrichment/Behavioral Management

Maintains physical environment of exhibits and other animal enclosures to meet animal physical and psychological needs.

Initiates and implements appropriate behavioral enrichment and behavioral management programs with approval and/or under direction of curatorial staff.

Visitor Interaction

Interacts routinely and positively with visitors and other Zoo constituents about the Zoo and animals in their care.

Participates in Zoo-related education, membership and public programs including, but not limited to, facility tours, feeding demonstrations, keeper talks, etc.; may collaborate with curatorial and education staff to develop such programs.

Uses information provided through memos, meetings, etc. to keep informed of zoo activities relevant to visitors.

Animal and Related Knowledge

Conducts regular observation of animals for health and social and reproductive behavior.

Continues to upgrade knowledge of animal species in assigned area(s), including natural history, husbandry, enrichment, and individual information, through use of on-site materials and formal and informal training programs and opportunities. May participate in career development opportunities and course work or continuing education programs.

May assist in research programs as assigned. May initiate and implement research projects under direction of curatorial staff.

Maintains ability to recognize poisonous plants commonly found on Zoo grounds.

Veterinary Program

Implements and maintains treatment plans, quarantine and other preventive health programs, and zoonotic disease transmission prevention programs as prescribed by veterinary staff.

Assists in pest control.


Maintains current knowledge of Zoo, departmental, and area policies and procedures relevant to daily activities and emergencies.

Assists in the capture, crating and transfer of animals and participates in shipping and receiving of specimens.

As appropriate to specific role and knowledge, provides training and instruction to apprentice keepers and others as assigned in all aspects of animal care and facility operation.

Performs related work as assigned.


1. One year experience with exotic animals in an AZA-accredited zoological park or equivalent plus a bachelor's degree in one of the life sciences. Additional appropriate experience will be considered as a substitute for a bachelor’s degree.

2. Demonstrated knowledge of the exhibition and husbandry of exotic animals in the area. Demonstrated motivation and initiative in expanding knowledge of husbandry, exhibition and management of zoo specimens.

3. Demonstrated knowledge of the hazards of working with zoo specimens and of safety precautions and security measures related to zoo specimens.

4. Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain effective and productive working relationships with fellow workers.

5. Ability to clearly and accurately present oral and written information.

6. Demonstrated interest in sharing information with visitors and other Zoo constituents on animal collection and the Zoo. Public speaking skills required.

7. Ability to perform work in accordance with policies and procedures and to adapt to change.

8. Ability to stay well informed about the Zoo, its regulations, policies, operations, history, etc.

9. Ability to make, communicate and implement reasoned decisions as appropriate.

10. Professional appearance and manner.

11. Reptile keeper positions: must demonstrate competence working with venomous reptiles by completing the Philadelphia Zoo's Venomous Reptile Handling Training Program and by demonstrating knowledge of the written protocol established for venomous snakebite emergencies within 12 months after start date.

12. Elephant keeper positions: must successfully complete the Zoo’s elephant training program within 9 months after start date.

13. Availability to work schedule as assigned, including weekends and before/after normal hours.



1. Successful completion of a general physical examination, drug test and Mantoux tuberculin test prior to beginning work. Immunocompetence (able to respond appropriately to infectious diseases and allergies which may be present in the animal collection). Keepers who have routine contact with bats and other potential rabies vector species are required to undergo the rabies pre-exposure series and to receive periodic rabies titers.

2. Capable of performing strenuous and/or heavy physical labor.

3. No impairment of sight, smell, hearing, touch, balance and agility of movement (which cannot be corrected with appropriate devices) that may interfere with the ability to perform work.

4. Able to safely lift, carry and load 40 pounds a distance of 50 feet.

5. Able to work from heights or in confined spaces.

6. Ability to work outside in all weather conditions.

7. No allergy to animals, plants or the chemicals and/or products used in the performance of work, which may interfere with ability to perform work.

8. Able to remain on feet for long periods, climb stairs, bend and stoop.

9. Able to deal with possible exposure to dust, potentially dangerous and unpredictable animal species, and potentially dangerous machinery, restraint devices and hazardous chemicals and/or drugs. Use of protective clothing or equipment may be required for some tasks, including but not limited to, goggles, masks, gloves, braces, hats, gowns, boots, etc. Work in specific areas may require ability to use other protective gear (e.g. respirators).

If interested, please complete our online application at: