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The Living Desert

Animal Care Keeper - Zoo-Wide Float

The Living Desert is seeking qualified candidates to join our Animal Care team as an Animal Care Keeper-Float.  This is a key, visible leadership position that requires a motivated, dedicated team player who is willing to make a significant commitment to the organization.  This requires an enthusiastic individual with strong organizational, decision making, and task management skills while demonstrating ability to work effectively with all levels of staff in a consistently changing atmosphere.

The Animal Care team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.”  This position will help the Zoo achieve a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture.  This person must have the ability to make good decisions regarding the welfare of animals, staff and guests while working for the greater good of the zoo.  This person must be a cooperative and collaborative team member with a great guest service attitude. 

Position Summary:

Reports to Animal Care Curator.  This position will be cross trained throughout all areas of the zoo and is interested in a variety of species. This position will also be trained to care for hospitalized and quarantine animals. Experience with veterinary practice and procedure preferred but not required. Understanding of quarantine procedures and cleanliness required for hospitalized animals is key to the success of this position. This roaming position will need to be able to jump into any area of the zoo as needed. Will need a high level of communication skills to work with a variety of communication styles as well as embrace a feedback rich environment.  This position will be responsible for daily animal care duties, training projects, enriching experiences, and habitat projects in the areas they are assigned.  This role will require a high level of retention and flexibility. 

Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure and remain levelheaded in emergency situations
  • Keep accurate and detailed records of daily observations of area collection animals containing information regarding behavior, diet intake, fecal output, behavior, health, weight, breeding, aggression, behavioral enrichment, capture/restraint, prescribed medical treatments in-house
  • Attend and participate in staff meetings to discuss the needs of the animal collection and animal staff, resolve challenges, and learn new procedures and policies
  • Familiar with USDA and AZA regulations and comply with them
  • Contribute and maintain a safe, positive and productive workplace environment for animals, guests and staff
  • Perform cleaning and maintenance of assigned habitats and make minor repairs when needed
  • Diet/meal preparation, feeding and restocking of feed supplies as needed and as prescribed
  • Daily cleaning of animal enclosures, service areas, holding units, and support areas utilizing various tools, instruments, disinfectants; and with the ability to do so safely 
  • General maintenance of habitats, service/support areas and holding units such as: fence/enclosure repair, furniture, mister system, automatic drinkers, shade cloth, fill holes, etc. Complete monthly containment checks on enclosures.
  • Research the animal natural history; observe and recognize a variety of courtship behaviors; creates environments that induce breeding where appropriate and recommended design options
  • Participates with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enriching experiences of animal collection
  • Strong organizational and communication skills with the ability to accurately report daily information written, orally and with computer programs
  • Maintain assigned areas and holding units to ensure animal, keeper, and guest safety, and are in good appearance paying attention to detail for guest viewing at all times
  • Excellent guests service and communication skills for effective & engaging public speaking; Gives knowledgeable and engaging tour/talks for guests, staff, and donors
  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals under the Two Key/Two Lock/Two Keeper and Lock Out Tag Out Engineering Control systems

Experience Required

Minimum Qualifications: • AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree and at least one year of exotic animal experience. Bachelor’s degree preferred but not required. • Experience with animal training and public presentations a plus. • Will substitute training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skill, and abilities. Generally, one year of full-time exotic animal experience will translate to one year of college. • Valid California driver license. • Must be insurable on The Living Desert's automobile policy. Working Conditions: • Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting (up to 50#) • Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals and dust/airborne materials. • Works with potentially dangerous animals (large ungulates, carnivores, venomous snakes) • Holiday, evening, weekend work required. Available on as needed basis for emergencies and events. • Travel opportunities for conferences, workshops and/or conservation projects as appropriate. Some or all expenses paid.


Paid Time Off (PTO) is accrued at a rate of .769 days per pay period which is equivalent to twenty (20) days on an annual basis. In addition to PTO you will receive seven (7) paid sick days on an annual basis. Your paid sick time for your first year will be pro-rated from your date of hire and then earned every July 1st thereafter. The Living Desert offers to its employees: Health, Dental, Vision and Life Insurance that is either paid in full or significantly subsidized by the organization. We also offer voluntary Life Insurance, Short Term Disability Insurance and Flexible Spending Accounts. You are eligible to participate in our insurance programs the first day of the month following thirty days of employment. We also offer a 401(k) Plan to our eligible employees. You are eligible to participate in this plan after six months of employment here. A one-time annual discretionary match of up to 3% of your annual wages may be available to you.



How to Apply

To apply for this position: Qualified applicants must send resume, three (3) references and cover letter care of Christine Montgomery to Cover letter should include how you will be key in moving the Animal Department forward and how you will move The Living Desert mission forward. Position open until filled.

The Living Desert
47900 Portola Ave
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone: 760-346-5694
Fax: 760-568-4842

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