Curator, Herps & Aquatics

Organization: Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Brookfield, IL, United States
Job or Internship: Job

One of the exciting new challenges in enhancing high-level animal care in zoos is applying a broad range of sciences to evaluate animal well-being. The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) has addressed this challenge by establishing the Center for the Science of Animal Welfare (CSAW), a program designed to advance the science of “animal-directed” care at Brookfield Zoo. With CSAW, the Society is expanding the field through innovation— combining scientific study and animal husbandry to develop the best possible management practices. The Curator, Herpetology and Aquatics, contributes to the success of CZS through effective management of programs and operations of the aquatic/reptile/amphibian/invertebrate collections in accordance with the Society’s long-range plan, especially with respect to personnel, facilities, animal, and public programs. The Curator is responsible to lead and direct operations and for staff management and animal care of the reptile and aquatic workgroups and other areas within the Animal Programs Group as assigned.

CZS has nearly tripled our reptile and aquatics areas in size in the last five years and opportunity remains for increasing our collection size and focus as programs grow and continue to develop. We have started expanding our local herp/aquatic conservation projects which include species such as mud and Blanding’s turtles, alligator snapping turtles, fine-lined skinks, and Massasauga rattlesnakes. Existing space is available to continue to expand off exhibit breeding programs. Our Reptiles & Birds building is in the process of being repurposed from a bird building to a predominately herp building, giving the opportunity to expand exhibit space. Communicating and implementing the management plan for the aquatic/reptile/amphibian/invertebrate collections and for the department including species selection, breeding programs, contraception and animal transactions.

The Curator will work closely and collaboratively with the Senior Vice President of Collections and Animal Care and other Animal Program managers to assure the health and well-being of the animal collection and the integration and coordination of information, plans, and activities with other areas to assure optimum care of the collection and achievement of Society goals and objectives. The Curator plans and directs the management of the department including maintaining exhibition program, overseeing acquisition and disposition of specimens; coordinating breeding programs; overseeing behavioral enrichment and training programs; ensuring established husbandry standards are met; assuring compliance with the USDA and other regulatory standards; observing and communicating health, diet, reproductive, and other husbandry needs of the collection to appropriate staff; identifying and anticipating problematic areas and working with appropriate staff to assure successful resolution; implementing long-range collection plans that identify species, breeding, communication, and research priorities; ensures the department is managed in accordance with these plans; ensuring the refinement of management protocols; identifying management challenges and creating and implementing action plans to address these; and identifying appropriate research areas, reviewing proposed research for relevance, managing implementation of approved programs, and coordination with field programs. You will work with the Conservation, Education, and Training staff and other staff to confirm a comprehensive visitor communication program in accordance with the Society’s long-range plan and provide technical input into the program and ensure the program is implemented, evaluated, and updates as necessary to include maintenance and periodic review of existing programs and staff/guest interactions.

As Curator, you will hire and select department staff and oversee activities related to personnel management, including scheduling, job assignments, new hire training, department orientation, foster ongoing staff, keeper training and development; coach and counsel; conduct and provide performance appraisals; recognition; and provide recommendation of employment actions including salary changes, promotions, disciplinary actions, and separations. Actively participating in and supporting the employee survey and action planning process is important in this role. Encouraging maximum survey participation, sharing survey results, and engaging all reporting staff in developing and implementing actions to improve the workplace is important. Assuring the creation and implementation of specific actions for improvement; monitoring and documenting progress; incorporating survey action planning into regular work group/department meetings on an ongoing bases will all help in holding staff accountable for implementation of action plans, continuous improvement, and improvement of survey results. Responsibility also includes making appropriate recommendations with respect to department structure, staffing, and manpower needs along with assuring adherence to the union contract, and may serve as the Step 1 grievance hearing officer for union grievances.

The requirements for this position include:

• Bachelors degree in Biology, Zoology, Animal Science or related field or equivalent combination of training and/or experience required. Advanced degree preferred.

• Minimum three years relevant, comparable management-level experience, including programmatic planning, budgeting, and human resource management.

• Minimum five years of captive reptile/amphibian/aquatic/invertebrate management experience in a zoo or large-scale animal care facility or equivalent experience required.

• Experience developing husbandry and breeding programs for amphibians, reptiles/aquarium species (fish, aquatic invertebrates)/invertebrates required.

• Experience developing and implementing conservation and relevant research projects; research; and working with reptile/amphibian/aquatic/invertebrate field species, both in captivity and in the field, are highly preferred.

• Knowledge/familiarity with: AZA accreditation standards, code of ethics, and representative husbandry standards; animal record keeping systems, studbook programs; participation in AZA or other captive population management programs preferred for reptile/amphibian/aquatic/invertebrate species, both in captivity and in the field along with AZA membership highly preferred.

• Extensive experience working with aquatic life support systems (LSS) in a zoo or aquarium setting is required. Knowledge of water quality parameters as it relates to aquarium environments required.

• Familiarity with USDA and other requirements.

• Experience and/or ability to work and interact effectively with a diverse, multicultural audience; strong follow-up and follow-through skills; strong observation, analytical and organizational skills and abilities are required.

• Strong interpersonal and communications skills, including verbal, written and listening skills; ability to develop strong rapport with others and work effectively as a part of a team; effective decision-making and problem-solving skills; and the ability to be flexible, cooperative, and easily adapt to shifting priorities are all required.

• Individual must be a good coach and facilitator with a strong commitment to developing staff; a role model who can mentor and teach others; able to maintain the confidentiality of privileged information; and strong team orientation is required.

• Must be SCUBA certified within one year of hire.

• Computer proficiency with Microsoft Windows, Outlook, Word, and Excel required. Experience with data management and statistical procedures required. Experience with PowerPoint and other Office software preferred. Familiarity with animal record keeping systems and studbook programs preferred.

• Valid driver’s license required. Illinois residents must possess a valid Illinois license within 90 days of hire. Valid out-of-state license required for out-of-state residents.

The Chicago Zoological Society is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer - M/F/V/D.

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