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National Aquarium

Senior Behavioral Husbandry Trainer

General Purpose:

Coordinates the implementation, and oversight of formalized behavioral husbandry programs for the Animal Care and Welfare (ACW) staff and animals. Responsible for the standardization of training and enrichment programs across all sections of ACW. Responsible for continual advancement of animal training and enrichment programs as the zoo and aquarium industry evolves. Trains and coaches ACW staff on behavioral husbandry principles and application. Works with direct supervisor, ACW area managers, and other National Aquarium departments to develop behavior-based programs and demonstrations that highlight natural behaviors while ensuring optimal animal welfare Responsible for the daily care of animals as assigned.   


Essential Functions:

  • Assists in the development of formal ACW animal training program.
    • Coordinates standardization of animal training plan approval process and training session records.
    • Works with supervisor to create written document outlining ACW Animal Training Program.
    • Responsible for ensuring that the ACW training program facilitates husbandry and veterinary procedures, improves the guest experience, and enhances the animal’s overall health and welfare.
    • Coordinates with Curators, Animal Health, and other relevant staff to shape training goals, their review, approval, and overall progress.
    • Works with Registrar to define categories, standardize data collection, and lay foundation for Training Modules in Tracks Software program.
  • Assists in the development of formal ACW enrichment program.
    • Coordinates standardization of enrichment rating system and data collection.
    • Coordinates shift from item-based to goal-based enrichment.
    • Works with supervisor to create written document outlining ACW Environmental/ Behavioral Enrichment Program.
    • Responsible for ensuring that the ACW enrichment program meets AZA standards in goal setting, planning and approval, implementation, documentation, evaluation, and reassessment.
    • Responsible for coordinating the approval of new enrichment items.
    • Works with relevant staff to set enrichment goals, create enriching experiences, and ensure that goals are being met.
    • Works with Registrar to define categories, standardize data collection, and lay foundation for Enrichment Modules in Tracks Software program.
    • Coordinates Aquarium-wide Enrichment Building Days.
    • Works with Guest Engagement staff to coordinate enrichment activities to enhance the guest experience.
  • Assists in the development of formal “Train the Trainer” program to obtain optimum animal health and welfare, trainability, and guest experience.
    • Works with supervisor to create curriculum to train ACW staff on animal training techniques.
    • Helps lead  the program, including delivering presentations, facilitating discussions, and coaching staff on training theory and application.
    • Observes training sessions and leads post analysis meetings.
    • Creates a learning environment that motivates, teaches, and encourages staff at all levels and enhances employee growth.
    • Coordinates Behavioral Husbandry staff to provide hands-on training and enrichment assistance when requested.
  • Assists with Animal Enrichment and Training Committee (AETC)
    • Works with relevant staff to evaluate, redefine, and recruit for the committee.
    • Serves as committee vice-chair to ensure that training and enrichment goals are met and that information about training and enrichment is shared with the rest of NA staff and volunteers.
  • Works with supervisor to support transition to behavior-based presentations.
    • Helps ensure an “animals first” approach to programming that highlights natural behaviors and promotes optimal animal welfare.
    • Helps evaluate programs focusing on animal welfare, animal care, training, educational value, conservation messaging, and guest experience.
    • Helps determine future animal programming needs and coordinates acquisition and disposition of ambassador animals through the ACW Animal Acquisition/Disposition process.
    • Works with relevant managers/curators to ensure all ambassador animal care and handling guidelines meet or exceed AZA standards and adhere to NA’s Ambassador Animal Policy.
  • Stays abreast of current trends in the field to ensure that NA behavioral husbandry programs continue to evolve and improve.
    • Remains current on animal care and behavioral husbandry practices.
    • Maintains knowledge of industry innovations and new techniques.
    • Shares and disseminates knowledge both within and outside the Aquarium.
    • Evaluates data and implements changes to increase effectiveness of all programs.
  • Regularly inspects behavioral husbandry records to ensure they are effective, in compliance with optimal safety standards, and meet or exceed AZA standards.
  • Identifies ways that behavioral husbandry practices can improve and compliment other daily husbandry practices and exhibit programming.
  • Participates in and supports research projects related to animal behavior, training, and enrichment as needed.
  • Adheres to all organizational and departmental policies and procedures
  • Other duties as assigned



Qualifications/Position Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in biology, psychology, animal behavior or related science required.
  • A minimum of five years’ experience in aquarium or zoological field required.
  • Previous supervisory experience preferred.
  • Must have advanced knowledge of environmental enrichment principles and techniques for a variety of taxa
  • Must have advanced knowledge of animal training knowledge and application skills with a variety of taxa.
  • Must have demonstrated ability to develop animal training skills in others.
  • Must be able to analyze animal behavior and training progress and suggest changes and improvements, as necessary.
  • Must have sound professional knowledge of biology and animal care/ husbandry concepts and be able to apply to an Aquarium setting.
  • Must have sound professional knowledge of ambassador animal management, including methods to increase the animals’ choice and control.
  • Must be adept at observation and able to watch for any signs of illness, injury, changes in eating patterns, or behavior.
  • Must have experience in and knowledge of interpretation and public educational programming.
  • Must have public speaking skills.
  • Must be proficient in assisting with developing, conducting and managing high quality public presentations through staff coaching and animal management.
  • Must possess excellent communication skills and the ability to establish and maintain effective professional relationships with co-workers.
  • Familiarity with computers is necessary, especially Microsoft Excel and Word programs.
  • Must possess capacity to share information and knowledge via a variety of mediums to staff, including teaching, coaching, and mentoring.
  • Must be able to assume complex assignments that require implementing complex projects, and meeting deadlines.
  • Should be highly detailed-oriented, adept at problem solving, and have the capacity to decide when to act independently and when to seek consultation from supervisor(s).
  • Must be able to work a flexible schedule that may include weekend and/or evening hours.
  • Open water SCUBA certification preferred.
  • Care and/or training of aquatic species preferred.
  • Experience with Tracks software preferred.
  • Experience in curriculum development preferred.
  • Experience with basic behavior research methods desirable

How to Apply

National Aquarium
501 E Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

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