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Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Animal Excellence Scientist

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (CZBG) is a leader in animal care, wildlife conservation, sustainability, education, and community engagement. Our Mission is to create adventure, convey knowledge, conserve nature, and serve our community. We accomplish this by inspiring every visitor with wildlife every day by providing opportunities to be close enough to care. We are passionate about our commitment to Animal Excellence and succeed at this by pursuing our Core Values of: Collaborative Relationship; Positivity & Energy; Accountability, Mutual Trust & Respect; Progressive Thinking; Pride, Passion & a Sense of Ownership.

Successful candidates will demonstrate the following leadership attributes: You Model the example for others to follow; You Inspire others to work towards an exciting future and shared vision; You Challenge yourself and others to look for innovative ways to improve the organization; You Foster collaboration and trust and build spirited teams; You Recognize contributions and celebrate accomplishments.

Summary: This position advances Cincinnati Zoo’s mission and values by directly supporting the Zoo’s Animal Excellence research program. The Animal Excellence Scientist will develop and lead the Zoo’s research strategy as it pertains to animal behavior and welfare, with a set vision and goals for how research and welfare assessments can directly improve the experience of animals residing at the Cincinnati Zoo. In partnership with animal care teams and leaders, the Animal Excellence Scientist will design, coordinate, and implement behavior research, environmental research, welfare assessments, and other welfare monitoring projects in alignment with the strategy. This position will be responsible for interns and volunteers that may be assisting with research efforts, will assist with training of Zoo staff, and will represent the Zoo in communicating research findings both internally and externally. The Animal Excellence Scientist will work closely with the Director of Animal Science & Strategy and the full Animal Leadership Team to strengthen the Zoo’s advancement towards Animal Excellence and continue raising the bar for both animal and visitor experience.

Essential Functions

Program Leadership

  • Collaborate with the Director of Animal Science & Strategy and animal leadership team in developing short-term and long-term strategies and goals regarding the department’s animal welfare program. Evaluates progress of the animal welfare program over time and regularly identifies ways to improve program components.
  • Develop and communicate a clear understanding of how a commitment to and drive towards Animal Excellence aligns with the Zoo’s mission.
  • Collaborate effectively across departments to develop and manage projects, by building strong relationships and communicating clearly and positively. Works proactively to engage and problem-solve with animal care teams, cross-department zoo staff, and volunteers through in-person meetings, emails, and phone calls. Foster a positive, productive, supportive, and innovative atmosphere.
  • Work with the curatorial and animal care staff, along with the animal health team and CREW, to communicate project needs and enhancements to animal well-being.  Communicates research findings and opportunities for improvement as it relates to animal welfare or other department goals.
  • Share Animal Excellence successes and other best practices both internally and externally. Work with the Wild Encounters, PR/Marketing, and Education teams to highlight research being conducted and share those findings with our on-site and off-site audiences.
  • Perform other duties as assigned to support department goals and the Zoo’s mission.

Project Facilitation

  • Manages the Zoo’s animal welfare assessment process for all taxa, promoting a proactive approach to evaluating and improving animals’ experiences.
  • Manages the Zoo’s animal welfare concern reporting process, leading the response to concerns brought about by staff, volunteer, or visitors.
  • Coordinate and collaborate on animal well-being related research, projects, and initiatives, ensuring that they are clearly outlined and have metrics of success. This will include: compiling and reviewing scientific literature, designing research protocols, coordinating data collection, technology setup, collecting and analyzing data, generating reports and presentations, and communicating effectively with partners.
  • Communicate project status to animal curators or zoological managers and partner with them in coordinating time, resources, funding, or other support necessary for project completion.
  • Research efforts will primarily focus on evaluating behavior and space use of animals with some environmental monitoring as needed (i.e., sound, light, temp/hum). May also participate in visitor studies efforts.
  • Manage our elephant behavior and welfare monitoring program, currently facilitated through Elephant Welfare Initiative software.
  • Coordinate efforts to monitor animals’ response to special events at the Zoo.
  • Support the Zoo’s behavior-based enrichment program by contributing behavioral data and training staff to evaluate enriching experiences.
  • Coordinate interns, volunteers, and local university students to collect data for research projects, implementing associated training, scheduling, technology needs, etc. Provide appropriate training and mentorship as part of their experience.

Training & Resource Development

  • Develop and manage training and professional development program for staff and volunteers that provides skill and knowledge development related to animal welfare. Aligns with the department’s goal-oriented approach for staff development. For select courses, develops curriculum and instruct solely; for other courses, may collaborate with other staff to develop and co-teach.
  • Offer Zoo-wide introductory training to related to animal welfare.
  • Offer in-depth training or lecture on specific topics related to animal welfare.
  • Support the Managing Toward Animal Excellence project funded as a grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This will involve working with consultants and the animal leadership team to develop elements of the welfare program, create resources, and design training courses.
  • Facilitate regular round-table learnings (i.e. Journal Club).
  • Assist Curator of Animal Data & Logistics and other animal leadership team members in developing policies, protocols, tools, or other resources related to animal welfare and research.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Review and provide input on collection planning, exhibit design, and other department processes. 
  • May be called on to represent the Zoo to external donor, community, scientific, and government groups, including media appearances. Represent CZBG to the community in a professional and positive manner.
  • May attend regional, national or international conferences
  • Be engaged, visible, and accessible to Department of Animal Excellence staff.
  • Strive to create an environment to foster a positive, productive, supportive, and innovative atmosphere; identifies and addresses team health and culture issues.
  • Compliant with the safety policies and procedures, and promotes all employees working in a safe manner.
  • Complies with all Zoo policies and performs other supportive duties as needed.
  • Other duties as assigned to maintain efficient and quality Zoo operations.


Education & Experience

  • Master’s degree or PhD in Biology, Zoology, Animal Science, Psychology or related field preferred; or Bachelor’s degree and commensurate experience.
  • Successful candidates are likely to have at least 3 years of experience implementing behavioral research and animal welfare assessments.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of animal behavior and natural history; behavior-based enrichment, operant conditioning, biology and other topics that intersect with animal welfare.
  • Strong analytical and reporting skills. Knowledge of statistical software or other technical skills related to animal behavior research.
  • Demonstrated experience in building collaboration among cross-departmental teams and ability to gain cooperation through expertise, credibility, and positive working relationships.
  • Demonstrated experience in influencing culture change through trust-building, active listening and effective communication, and empathy.
  • Experience developing and facilitating instructional curriculum and/or supervising students or volunteers is desired but not required.

Required Skills & Abilities

  • Commitment and outward excitement towards the Animal Excellence program and the goals of the greater Department of Animal Excellence. Strong sense of self and confidence in the program, with personal motivation, professionalism, and proactiveness driving success. Willingness to respectfully challenge others and practices, gaining cooperation through expertise, credibility, and building positive working relationships.
  • Excellent attention to detail, project management, and interpersonal skills, with an ability to meet deadlines and shift priorities in a rapidly changing environment. Ability to handle manage multiple projects simultaneously is required.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated experience in building collaboration among cross-departmental teams and communicating effectively to staff, visitors, and other audiences. Possess excellent ability to develop and sustain effective working relationships within an organization, including superior interpersonal skills, an ability to work with diverse personalities, and tactful communication.
  • Strong organizational and written skills, including record keeping and data management. Proficiency in computer use including word processing, data entry and analysis, and PowerPoint.
  • Appropriate professional appearance, attitude, and personality to work effectively with Zoo staff members, visitors, and the community.
  • Demonstrated understanding and acceptance of the Core Values and Behaviors of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  Lives these on a day-today basis, “Modeling the Way” for others.
  • Demonstrated affinity for the Mission of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Physical Demands / Work Requirements

The physical demands for this position involve light lifting under 25lbs and also requires carrying, pushing, pulling, and occasional heavy lifting up to 50lbs. The employee is regularly required to stand, walk, talk and listen. The employee is occasionally required to sit, climb, balance, reach, stoop, or kneel.  The position requires both mental and visual concentration.

This position requires a substantial amount of contact with staff, volunteers, and other departments. The employee occasionally works near moving mechanical parts and in outside weather conditions and may be occasionally exposed to fumes or airborne particles and chemicals.  This employee may be required to have contact with animals and may be exposed to zoonosis. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Position Details: This full-time position is overtime-exempt, and is eligible for the Zoo’s benefits programs for non-union employees. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden offers a comprehensive benefits package including affordable medical, dental & vision coverage; 401(k) plan with company match; flexible spending accounts; generous paid time off (vacation, holiday and sick leave); company-paid disability & life insurance; park discounts and free passes.

To Apply: All qualified applicants must apply via our online application on our website at  Cover letter and resume should be attached to your online application.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received, so please apply soon!

We strive to be an organization that is diverse and reflects the fullness of society. With a strongly held value for an organizational culture characterized by inclusion and belonging, we are committed to equity in all we do. We are especially interested in candidates who can contribute to our organization’s diversity and who want to walk alongside us in our commitment to inclusion and equity

Founded in 1873 and officially open in 1875, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is the second oldest Zoo in the United States.  Rated by peer zoological parks as one of the best zoos in the nation, the Cincinnati Zoo continues to set the standard for conservation, education and preservation of wild animals and wild spaces. Over 1.8 million people visit the Zoo annually. The Zoo features more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species, making it one of the largest Zoo collections in the country.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden was rated the #1 attraction in Cincinnati and one of the top five zoos in the nation by Zagat Survey. It has also been recognized by Child Magazine as one of "The 10 Best Zoos for Kids." The Zoo is an accredited member of the American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA), and is internationally known for its success in the protection and propagation of endangered animals and plants, and engages in research and conservation projects worldwide.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is an equal opportunity employer and does not and will not discriminate against any applicant or employee based on race, religion, color, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, genetic information, military or veteran status, and/or any other characteristic or protected status.  We are a Queen City Certified Leader in Gender Equity.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.


Full Benefits

How to Apply

To Apply: All qualified applicants must apply via our online application on our website at  Cover letter and resume should be attached to your online application.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received, so please apply soon!

We strive to be an organization that is diverse and reflects the fullness of society. With a strongly held value for an organizational culture characterized by inclusion and belonging, we are committed to equity in all we do. We are especially interested in candidates who can contribute to our organization’s diversity and who want to walk alongside us in our commitment to inclusion and equity

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
3400 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45220
Phone: 5134873436

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