Life Support Operator - Full Time (1 position)

Organization: Kansas City Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Job or Internship: Job

This is a new position at the Kansas City Zoo. In the past few years, the zoo has added filtration systems at our sea lion, polar bear, and otter exhibits and we are set to open a new penguin exhibit this fall. Due to the added life support needs, the zoo is looking to add an experienced technician to the staff. For further information regarding the duties and responsibilities of this position, please see the supplied attachment.


Assures that the life support systems in the zoo are functioning properly, and takes care of the day-to-day operations of these systems to assure proper water quality, clarity, and chemistry.


• Will work with area supervisors to set up a backwashing schedule for the polar bear, penguin, sea lion, and MDC aquarium rapid sand filters.

• Will work with area supervisors to set up a pump basket cleaning schedule for the polar bear, penguin, and sea lion life support systems.

• Responsible for setting up daily check lists for the life support systems in the polar bear, penguin, sea lion, and tropics buildings as well as the MDC aquarium,

• Will create a maintenance schedule for all life support area equipment including pumps, filters, meters, and ozone systems.

• Responsible for most general maintenance work in the life support areas.

• Will work closely with the zoo’s maintenance department to accomplish all ordering of parts and equipment necessary to properly run all life support areas.

• Proper records will be maintained in all of the areas for life support work.

• Water samples will be taken on a routine basis and water chemistries will be recorded and acted upon, if necessary.

• Responsible for ordering and maintaining supplies of salt, chemicals, and testing kits and establishes proper time lines for ordering.

• Works with the water’s edge supervisor to establish artificial salt water creation timelines.

• Will work to establish, and maintain, a good working relationship with other life support operators at AZA facilities.

• Will maintain a good rapport with other employees within, and outside the department.

• May be asked to help design systems that are being proposed for new exhibits.

• Reports maintenance issues and potential safety hazards to appropriate manager.

• Helps to create operation standards so that others may perform these duties for limited amounts of time.

• Carries out duties and job assignments as delegated by the department director, or area curator.

• In times of emergency, or power failures, it may be necessary to hours outside of the regular schedule.


• Active. Heavy lifting – lifts and carries items weighing up to 75 pounds. Sufficient mobility, vision and hearing are needed to ensure a safe work environment. Must be able to be on feet for four hours at a time.


• Often in a climate controlled building environment, but may be in areas of extreme heat and humidity. May be outside working in extreme heat, up to 100° + in summer and temperatures below freezing in winter.


• Internal: Daily with other zoo employees.

• External: Occasionally with visitors, volunteers and guests.


• Knowledge of life support systems, in general.

• Knowledge of water chemistry techniques.

• Ability to perform repairs and maintenance on sand filters, protein skimmers, water pumps and meters, generators, air pumps, and ozone systems.

• Ability to tolerate stress in the work environment.

• Ability to understand and follow oral and written instructions.

• Ability to exercise judgment concerning assigned work activities.

• Skill in tact and diplomacy when interacting with co-workers, visitors and volunteers.

• Skill in observation in order to recognize and evaluate conditions of the systems as a whole.


• Bachelor’s Degree in a Biological Science or a closely related field. High school Diploma or General Educational Development (GED) Certificate accepted with at least one year of experience in a similar position.


• Possess a valid driver’s license.

• Proof of current negative TB Test.

• A SCUBA certification is not required but may prove helpful.

• Willingness to work a rotating shift and rotate work tasks.

• Ability to work weekends, evenings and holidays, during all climatic conditions.


• Must be able to make immediate decisions concerning safety of animals, employees, or the public.

• Must be able to comprehend situations at hand, and prioritize how to move forward with a plan that will best resolve the issues.


• Considerable latitude is given to the position to carry out the work objectives and determine the best method for dealing with situations that arise.


• High. Frequent short deadlines. Hectic work environment with occasional periods of high stress.