Zoo Keeper - Primates

Organization: Houston Zoo (AZA Member)
Location: Houston, Texas, Country
Job or Internship: Job

The Houston Zoo is currently offering the exciting opportunity for two experienced individuals to join its expanding Primate Team. Successful candidates for this position will be motivated, energetic, and team-oriented individuals with prior primate husbandry experience, a background in operant conditioning, and good communication and interpersonal skills.

The Zoo has a dynamic and growing primate collection consisting of 26 species, including prosimians, Old and New World monkeys, and lesser and great apes. The team also cares for a breeding pair of babirusa and multiple endangered species of turtles living in the primate exhibit moats. A gorilla exhibit currently under construction will provide state of the industry facilities for 10+ Western lowland gorillas that will be arriving next year.

Duties of this position include, but are not limited to, the daily husbandry (including diets, training, enrichment, propagation, and health care), exhibit maintenance and upkeep, and participation in guest experience initiatives such as meet-the-keeper talks and behind-the-scenes tours. Other duties for this position are outlined in the detailed job description below.


 Carries out all aspects of the daily care of assigned animals including cleaning, feeding, exhibit maintenance, general upkeep of support facilities.

 Maintains clean and organized exhibits, equipment, and keeper areas.

 Maintains water quality through filtration, balance of chemical elements, and sanitation methods for aquatic or semi-aquatic animal species.

 Maintains live exhibit plantings to enhance exhibit aesthetics and provide a comfortable environment for animals; eliminates weeds and toxic plants from animal enclosures.

 In conjunction with the Zoo’s pest control officer, may assist in pest control through the use of exclusion or traps.

 Prepares and feeds appropriate diets as per established feeding practices and diet sheets.

 Administers prescribed medications, supplements, or treatments under the guidance of the veterinary and supervisory staff.

 Records and reports any abnormal animal health or behavioral issues to the supervisor.

 Maintains daily reports, logs, research or veterinary records, as appropriate and according to established guidelines; requires basic skills with Microsoft Office software applications.

 Understands and applies a practical understanding of operant conditioning as it relates to the daily management of species under his/her care.

 Understands and applies the basic principles of animal enrichment as part of the daily management of species under his/her care.

 Identifies any potential maintenance or safety issues and reports them to the supervisor.

 Participates in keeper chats, tours, animal presentations or demonstrations, and/or other public interactions as requested by the Supervisor.

 Assists with department research projects as directed by the supervisor or curator and provides support to other Zoo projects as needed.

 May oversee work activities and/or provide training for interns, seasonal workers, or volunteers.

 May participate in conservation, AZA, or other industry activities as approved by the supervisor.

 Exhibits good teamwork and communication skills both within the home team and when working with other teams or departments.

 May be required to safely operate a motor vehicle.

 Other duties as assigned.


 Two-year or four-year degree in one of the natural sciences or a closely related discipline is preferred.


 A certificate of completion from an acceptable animal care program of not less than 30 semester hours is preferred.


 One year of experience in animal care in a zoo setting or under the direction of a licensed veterinarian is required, which may be gained through internships, volunteer experience, or employment.

 Extensive domestic animal experience may qualify for substitution for exotic animal management experience.

 Specific training and work experience in other settings, such as aquaculture, schools, nature centers, agricultural operations, or conservation centers may be considered on a case-by-case basis as fulfillment for the experience requirements.

 Starting salary will be a function of the levels of experience and relevant post-high school education.


This position does not directly supervise any zoo staff but may serve as a lead person for special projects or for interns or volunteers, as assigned by the supervisor.


This position involves considerable physical exertion such as climbing, reaching, assuming awkward positions, and lifting and/or moving of heavy objects (up to 50 pounds) on a regular basis.


There are routine exposures to heat, humidity, insects, cold, inclement weather, and air pollution. The position may involve exposure to chemical substances used as cleaning agents, exposure to animals and disease organisms, and physical trauma of a minor nature. The work schedule for this position may include week-ends and holidays. Annual tuberculosis testing and vaccination for rabies or other zoonotic diseases may be required.


This position requires the ability to make closely coordinated hand/eye movements within fine tolerances; the ability to make rapid closely coordinated hand/eye movements on a patterned response space within fine tolerances; the ability to make coordinated hand/eye movements within fine tolerances with large equipment as an extension of the worker.


This position requires regular contact with guests and a strong appreciation for customer service as a basic responsibility of this role.

To apply, please visit our website www.houstonzoo.org/careers