Assistant Lead Keeper, Large Carnivores

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

Assistant Lead Keeper, Large Carnivores

Requisition ID#936WL

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by, under direction of area managers or supervisors, providing experienced care for animals and perform related work of maintaining buildings, grounds, and interpretives in assigned area. Inform, assist, and direct guests as necessary. With guidance, perform a wide variety of departmental supervisory activities as assigned, including supervising and instructing Keepers in assigned area. Relieve Lead Keepers as directed. Perform all routine and new duties with minimal direction.


Perform in a proactive leadership role and communicate regularly with area supervisors/ managers regarding animal management, facility maintenance, and staff supervision and development. Assist in departmental hiring, scheduling and work assignments, and the development of departmental goals, plans, and priorities. Routinely monitor and review the work performance of keeper staff in assigned area and ensure completion of tasks in a timely and effective fashion. Participate in Keeper performance appraisal process as assigned. Responsible for current animal and equipment inventory. Verify employee work schedules. Provide written reports as assigned. Handle personnel situations in a timely, objective, and consistent manner, and in accordance with Society policies and the union contract. Ensure compliance with all Society policies and procedures. Observe assigned animals closely and objectively. Apply knowledge and prior experiences to affect or implement change where appropriate. Maintain and utilize animal records. Observe condition of assigned area, animal enclosures, and equipment. Monitor and clean public spaces, plants, and interpretives as required. Report maintenance needs, and perform minor maintenance tasks. Clean animal enclosures, pools, and service areas as required. Maintain detailed and current knowledge of natural history, husbandry, and captive management of species and individuals in assigned areas. Maintain proficiency in area routines and specialized procedures. Monitor guests to ensure animal and human safety and protection of Society property. Communicate with and assist guests. Take initiative to facilitate guests’ appreciation of animals and enjoyment of their visit. Demonstrate knowledge of and implement Society-wide and area emergency procedures as directed. Train and direct work of interns, seasonal employees and full-time keeper staff as assigned. Actively participates in and supports the annual employee survey and action planning process. Encourages maximum survey participation, shares survey results, and engages all reporting staff in the action planning process. Facilitates regular survey discussions and the creation of specific action plans for improvement, including SMART measures, timelines, and specific employee accountabilities. Monitors and documents progress. Incorporates survey action planning into regular work group/department meetings on an ongoing basis. Holds staff accountable for implementation of action plans and continuous improvement. Shares actions and successes within and outside the work group/department. Other related duties as assigned.


Bachelor's degree in relevant biological field or equivalent combination of training and/or experience required. Minimum four years Keeper experience or equivalent required, with one of the four years at Brookfield Zoo preferred. Must possess a track record of exemplary performance as Senior Keeper or equivalent experience. Detailed and current knowledge of natural history, principles of animal behavior and husbandry required. Diverse experience caring for and exhibiting a wide variety of large and small carnivores in a zoo setting preferred. Must be able to work with live animals safely. Good communication and interpersonal skills. The ability to interact in a courteous and professional manner. Ability to maintain good working relationships with staff at all levels, internal and external to Animal Programs. Communicate effectively and promptly with co-workers, managers, and guests following appropriate communication channels. Basic knowledge of the management of captive populations including related AZA conservation programs. Must be capable of dealing with emergencies calmly and efficiently. Proficiency in learning and integrating information, knowledge, and direction quickly, and completing tasks as needed. Good decision-making skills. Ability to integrate and apply knowledge and prior experiences to affect or implement changes and make sound independent judgments where appropriate. Incumbent must demonstrate the ability to develop proficiency in perceiving and acting upon relevant changes in animal behaviors and conditions. Incumbent must possess or acquire knowledge of the Chicago Zoological Society, its mission statement, policies and procedures, and incorporate into daily job responsibilities. Incumbent must demonstrate the ability, or the ability to develop a proficiency, to perform assigned routines and specialized procedures as directed. Must possess a proven record of consistently and accurately performing job duties. Good problem-solving skills. The ability to identify problems and utilize appropriate information to develop solutions. Track record of demonstrating initiative in analyzing and solving problems, and recommending ideas and viable suggestions to improve operations. Demonstrated record of making recommendations and suggestions that are well thought-out and researched. Ability to work with minimal supervision. Strong supervisory skills. Demonstrated ability to promote good morale and productivity in the workplace. Proven ability to train and direct the work of interns, seasonal and full-time keeper staff. Demonstrated ability to effectively mediate routine personnel issues and conflicts between staff. Ability to serve in a leadership role in directing the management and operations within assigned area. Ability to ensure short-term goals are developed and achieved. Solicit input on improving operations and animal management procedures. Demonstrated capacity to guide the professional development of co-workers. Must represent the Society in a professional manner at all times. Good time management skills. Must demonstrate flexibility, creativity, and responsibility in use of time. Basic knowledge of the Chicago Zoological Society’s conservation programs, or the ability and willingness to learn programs, as they apply to assigned areas. Must be able to maintain confidentiality with regard to personnel and other privileged matters. Must be reliable. Valid driver’s license required for Illinois residents within 90 days of hire; valid out-of-state license required for out-of-state residents. Spanish fluency a plus, but not required. For The Living Coast and Seven Seas keeper positions, SCUBA Certification required within one year of employment. This is a full-time position with rotating shifts, including weekends, holidays, and evenings.

If interested in being considered for this opportunity, please email your resume/cover letter noting position title and ID# 936WL in subject line and in your cover letter to: For more information about our organization and career opportunities please visit our website at

The Chicago Zoological Society is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer – M/F/V/D – Diversity candidates encouraged to apply and identify themselves.