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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Animal Care Keeper - Nutrition Center

The Living Desert is seeking qualified candidates to join our Animal Care Team as an Animal Care Keeper – Nutrition Center.  This is a key, front-line 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 environment.

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 focused in the existing nutrition center as well as be instrumental in establishing the new Nutrition Center at the Rhino Savanna habitat opening Fall of 2021. Tasks will be daily diet preparations for over 500 animals, daily maintenance and cleanliness of the nutrition center, stocking and ordering supplies and food, and overseeing nutrition center volunteers and interns. This position will be expected to do keeper chats and guest engagement activities.

Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner, and act as a role model at all times
  • Responsible for daily diet preparation, daily stocking and maintaining food supplies.
  • Responsible for maintaining USDA & AZA regulations/standards of cleanliness and order in the Nutrition Center.
  • Responsible for maintaining professional working relationships with vendors.
  • Responsible for maintaining accurate inventory, ordering supplies and food with vendors and keeping management informed of shortages.
  • Proficient knowledge of computer programs such as Excel.
  • General knowledge of zoo animal husbandry and observational skills.
  • Able to have a basic knowledge of caloric and nutritional needs for animals.
  • Able to train staff, volunteers and interns on Nutrition Center duties in a positive and nurturing manner.
  • Excellent guests service and communication skills for effective & engaging public speaking; Gives knowledgeable and engaging tour/talks for guests, staff and donors.
  • May assist with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enriching experiences of animal collection as needed.
  • Contribute and maintain a safe, positive and productive workplace environment for animals, guests and staff.
  • Able to establish and maintain effective and professional working relations with co-workers and other department personnel, and to do so in accordance with The Living Desert Employee Handbook.
  • Other related responsibilities as necessary to accomplish department objectives.

Experience Required

Minimum Qualifications: • AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science, food service or other related degree and at least one year of exotic animal experience. Bachelor degree preferred but not required. • Experience in a kitchen/food prep 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 team members: 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 team members. You are eligible to participate in this plan after six months of employment. A one-time annual discretionary match at a percentage to be determined may be available to you on the last day of the fiscal year and paid after that time.



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 Zoo and Gardens
47900 Portola Ave
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone: 760-346-5694
Fax: 760-568-4842

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