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Senior Marine Mammal Trainer (Sea Lions)

Organization: Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (AZA Member)
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Job or Internship: Job


The Steller sea lion population in the northern Pacific Ocean has declined by 80% in the past 30 years. As a result, the Vancouver Aquarium has been involved in a research project for the past 19 years to help understand the reason for this decline in population and develop strategies to preserve this and other species. The Senior Marine Mammal Trainer is responsible for the care and training of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Steller sea lion and northern fur seal population at the Vancouver Aquarium and at an offsite, open water research facility. The incumbent provides both physical and mental stimulation through training and enrichment, and ensures research requirements are trained and met in a timely fashion. They are also responsible for training animals for display and show requirements for the Vancouver Aquarium as well as maintain the facilities and equipment required to house and care for the animals at both sites.

This is a one year contract, with possibility of moving to regular status with benefits following the contract period.

Key Accountabilities

Ensures continuous excellence in the care of the Steller sea lions by:

• Making daily observations of animals and reporting any abnormalities to the coordinator and curator;

• Carrying out basic functions while ensuring the health and safety of all animals, staff and guests;

• Ensuring proficiency in the areas of animal health, natural history, and husbandry techniques;

• Proactively maintaining a safe and sanitary working and animal living area;

• Training the animals for husbandry procedures;

• Administering medications and assisting in routine and emergency medical procedures;

• Including stimulation and enrichment activities for the animals.

Develops and implements new animal behavior into shows under the guidelines of the coordinator by:

• Successfully acclimatizing and training inexperienced animals without supervision;

• Implementing and carrying out daily animal training interactions;

• Designs and implements new training for aquarium and open water research behaviours;

• Designs and implements new training for future open water animals.

Research and Coordinate Data Collection by:

• Working closely with research staff to design research data collection schedules based on animal training requirements;

• Ensuring deadlines for research projects are met;

• Assisting researcher technicians in data collection during trials;

• Assisting researchers in designing research equipment for effective data collection;

• Participating in meetings and discussions about research proposals;

• Assisting in writing safety and training protocols;

• Maintaining up to date, accurate and concise records.

Positively represents the Aquarium and its programs by:

• Adhering to all Vancouver Aquarium and departmental policies;

• Being knowledgeable of current and relevant issues regarding Stellers and northern fur seals;

• Performing all primary and supportive roles in education/interpretation and general public shows through excellent speaking skills, stage and camera presence;

• Maintaining a high level of motivation and a consistent professional approach to your job;

• Being media trained and comfortable handling basic interviews;

• Seeking out new ways to improve guest relations via direct rapport with the public and improved interviewing techniques.

Assists the Marine Mammal Department by:

• Overseeing and mentoring less experienced trainers in all aspects of the job;

• Ensuring competency in animal transports;

• Maintaining the department standards of safety;

• Functioning as a collaborative team member showing consideration, tolerance, cooperation, reliability and the ability to accept and give constructive feedback;

• Performing these or other duties as the department requires on various days and/or locations.


Education and Experience

• Relevant university degree (e.g. marine biology, biology, psychology etc;

• Vancouver Aquarium scuba certified preferred;

• Pleasure Craft Operators Certificate as well as experience operating boats in all conditions;

• Minimum 5 years pinniped experience as a marine mammal trainer using animal husbandry techniques;

• Experience doing live presentations in front of a crowd.

Skills Required

• Knowledge of animal husbandry;

• Ability to develop skills with animals for veterinary, research and educational activities;

• Knowledge and skills in operating marine radio;

• Basic understanding of animal behaviour and the ability to observe, interpret, capture and communicate animal activities;

• Excellent health and physical condition;

• Excellent interpretive and public speaking skills.

Working Conditions:

• Exposure to animal bites, potential pathogens & chemicals;

• Standing for periods of time;

• Exposure to slippery conditions and uneven surfaces;

• Required to work in extreme weather conditions;

• Ability to carry heavy and awkward items up to 50 lbs;

• High degree of alertness needed in response to changing conditions when working with large animals.