Associate Curator, Birds

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

Since the opening of Brookfield Zoo in 1934, the Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. Among its historical firsts are indoor multispecies exhibits, zoo nutrition residencies, methods for animal husbandry, and medical care that includes successful brain surgery for a gorilla. In building its legacy of animal care and compassion, the Society has launched two new centers: the Center for Conservation Leadership and the Center for the Science of Animal Welfare (CSAW). These innovative learning and research hubs will integrate a wide variety of disciplines, changing the way animal conservation issues are considered and advancing the science of “animal-directed” care around the world. The Brookfield Zoo bird collection is focused on population sustainability and the continued development and improvement of avian husbandry standards. Being a northern institution where a large portion of our birds are housed indoors much of our collection is comprised of passerines. We maintain a large number of off exhibit breeding aviaries where we work with multiple pairs of many of the species housed at the Zoo. We have a strong presence in the AZA bird community, managing the SSP’s for the blue-bellied roller, red-capped cardinal, blue-grey tanager, and superb starling as well as the studbook for the Humboldt penguin. We also have strong involvement in the ASAG (Avian Scientific Advisory Group) and the PACCT (Passeriformes, Apodiformes, Coliiformes, Caprimulgiformes, and Trogoniformes) TAG.

The Associate Curator, Birds is responsible for assisting the Curator in the management of all on-site and off-site programs and operations of the bird collection in accordance with the Society's long-range plan, especially with respect to personnel, facilities, animals, and public programs. You will make use of your captive avian management experience while working closely and collaboratively with the Curatorial, Veterinary, and keeper staff at all levels 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. Utilizing your prior experience working with birds in a Zoo setting, you will assist the Curator in managing the daily operations of the Bird workgroup not limited to but including maintaining the exhibition program, overseeing acquisition and disposition of specimens, coordinating controlled breeding, overseeing behavioral enrichment and training programs, and ensuring established husbandry standards are met. You will communicate and implement the management plan for the bird collection and for the bird workgroup to include implementing departmental and area procedures and institutional policies and dissemination of departmental and institutional information including species selection, reproduction and contraception, and animal transactions. Working with the Curator, you will manage the collection to optimize the well-being of individuals and populations as well as genetic and demographic management and to meet exhibition/guest experience goals. You will demonstrate your prior supervisory experience while participating in the selection of department staff and assisting in activities related to personnel management including, but not limited to: scheduling and job assignments, new hire training and department orientation, ongoing staff training and development, coaching and counseling, performance appraisals, recognition, recommendation of employment actions, assuring adherence to the union contract and providing fair and equitable accountability practices for staff. This also includes actively participating in and supporting the employee survey and action planning process. You will also work with other staff to confirm a comprehensive guest communication program, develop plans for new facilities or necessary modifications, enhance animal management goals, and serve on Society-wide committees and task forces to provide input on regional, national and international conservation issues.

As Brookfield Zoo is open 365 days a year, the position requires flexible availability for weekends, holidays and evenings as needed. The Associate Curator will be expected to be present and visible at events sponsored by the Society for its employees, Board members, and other professional participants and audiences and to represent the Society externally. This position does require some travel.

The requirements for this position include:

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

•Minimum 5 years of captive avian management experience in a zoo or large scale animal care facility or equivalent experience required. Experience working with birds in a zoo setting is required.

•Experience developing husbandry and breeding management plans for birds, particularly with passerines, highly preferred.

•AZA professional membership preferred. Knowledge/familiarity with AZA accreditation standards, code of ethics and representative husbandry standards preferred. Familiar with AZA or other captive population management programs preferred.

•Requires a strong interest in/commitment to conservation, animals, and the natural world.

•Experience developing and implementing conservation and relevant research projects preferred.

•Two (2) years supervisory experience required.

•Must be an effective coach and facilitator, with a strong commitment to developing staff. Must also be a role model who can mentor and teach others; strong team orientation.

•Comprehensive experience in developing, implementing, and reviewing public communications programs preferred.

•Requires strong interpersonal skills and ability to develop strong rapport with others and work effectively as a part of a team.

•Strong interpersonal and communications skills, including verbal, written, and listening skills required.

•Experience working with opposing constituencies, operating as a facilitator, and a reconciler of interests preferred. Effective decision-maker and problem-solver required.

•Must be flexible, cooperative, and able to adapt easily to shifting priorities.

•Requires strong observation, analytical and organizational skills and abilities; strong follow-up and follow-through skills required.

•Must be able to maintain the confidentiality of privileged information.

•Experience and/or ability to work and interact effectively with a diverse, multicultural audience required. Multilingual ability, Spanish fluency a plus.

•Proficiency in MS Office applications (word processing and database management) essential; familiarity with animal record keeping systems, 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.

If interested in being considered for this opportunity, please visit the CZS Career Center at to obtain more details about the position and to apply by submitting your profile to Requisition 1051.