Primate Keeper

Organization: Nashville Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Job or Internship: Job

Position: Primate Keeper

Department: Mammal

Supervisor: Primate Supervisor

Description: Under general supervision, employee will perform a wide range of functions in the Primate Area at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Primary responsibility is to feed, clean, and maintain assigned collection animals; animal exhibits, yards, night enclosures, and contiguous areas; perform light exhibit construction; operate zoo vehicles; maintain integrity of existing landscape. Keeper will be responsible for daily operant conditioning and enrichment for the animals in their care. Additionally, employee will be responsible for educating the public through keeper talks and other impromptu educational sessions as well as providing a clean and safe atmosphere for families to enjoy the Nashville Zoo.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Animal Husbandry

• Feed and water collection animals. Clean animal exhibit, yards, pools, night enclosures, and service areas

• Monitor assigned animals closely with regard to general appearance, diet consumption levels, condition of fecal matter, group dynamics, etc.

• Record daily observations pertaining to the health and behavior of assigned animals on a daily report

• Participate in capturing, restraining, and moving animals safely

• Participate in the Primate Area's operant conditioning and enrichment program

• Assist veterinarian staff in the treatment and assessment of collection animals

• Monitor and maintain exhibits for safety and containment

• Provide exhibit security and take appropriate actions to prevent vandalism and maltreatment of animals and facilities by the public


• Clean and disinfect utensils, work tools, and containers

• Maintain plant life in and around enclosures

• Perform minor or routine maintenance of enclosures and report all other maintenance needs to supervisors

• Operate a variety of light and medium equipment

Public Education

• Participate in daily keeper talks designed to educate the public about the animal collection

• Respond to questions from the public concerning the animals and exhibits

• Model the Zoo’s image and code of professional ethics in words and actions at all times


Knowledge of:

• Animal behavior, with a strong emphasis on primate behavior

• Strong knowledge and previous experience in operant conditioning and enrichment

• Care, feeding, and handling of exotic animals

• Safety practices around exotic and domestic animals

• Techniques for restraining and capturing exotic and domestic animals

• Animal biology, zoology, or other related field

Capable of:

• Completely performing the responsibilities outlined in the “Duties and Responsibilities” section

• Monitoring animal behavior and appearance

• Operating motorized vehicles and equipment; applicant must possess a valid driver’s license

• Taking and following work instructions

• Working in a team oriented atmosphere

• Effectively communicating with coworkers and supervisors

• Interacting and communicating with the general public in an appropriate manner

Physical Requirements:

Must be able to work outside year-round under typical Tennessee weather conditions and temperatures for extended periods of time. Must be able to work in uneven terrain with exposure to varying weather conditions, dust, and allergens. Must be able to move about on slippery surfaces, handle toxic and hazardous materials and work in cramped and confined spaces. Must be able to lift and carry materials up to 75 pounds.


Applicant must have a college degree (Associates or Bachelors) in an applicable field: Animal Science, Biology, Zoology, etc.


Applicant must have at least 1 year paid experience in a zoological setting. Previous experience with primates is strongly preferred.

Background Check:

Applicants for this position are required to submit to a criminal background check and pass a drug test.

Special Note:

Applicant may be required to work any combination of five days in the seven-day workweek including holidays.

Please send your resume to