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Oakland Zoo

Lead Elephant Keeper

The Lead Elephant Keeper is responsible for the physical health and psychological well-being of the animals directly under his/her care.  Work ranges from the physical tasks associated with feeding and maintenance of living areas to more analytical tasks of planning, record keeping, and communication. The Lead Elephant Keeper is expected to have a comprehensive knowledge of the natural history of the species, to conduct ongoing assessment of their physical and psycho-social needs, and to design and implement steps to address these needs. The Lead Elephant Keeper is expected to be able to use the tools of animal observation, enrichment, training, and other management methods to ensure the best possible psychological well-being of the animals in their care. S/he is expected to implement Department/Zoo priorities as well as demonstrate the initiative and expertise to regularly find ways to make improvements. S/he is expected to guide and support junior staff and volunteers as appropriate. The Lead Elephant Keeper takes direction from the Zoological Manager regarding daily operations as appropriate. S/he must also be able to represent the Zoo in a variety of public settings including press interviews, instructional classes and casual communication with Zoo guests.


  1. Minimum of 5 years full time experience in the care of captive elephants in an AZA facility or equivalent.
  2. Minimum of 1 year experience as a supervisor (directing and coaching other staff).
  3. Good physical condition; able to lift a minimum of 50 lbs. (i.e. feed sack) and move a minimum of 120lbs.(i.e. hay bale); ability to walk long distances on uneven terrain in variable environmental conditions (e.g., steep, muddy, etc)
  4. Valid driver’s license and clean driving record
  5. Willingness to work outside normal business hours including weekends and holidays
  6. Good written and verbal communications skills
  7. Knowledge of the habits and hazards of working with wild, dangerous animals; willingness to work with some physical risk while observing proper safety precautions
  8. Bachelor’s degree in science field or equivalent in experience

Experience Required

EXPERIENCE AND QUALITIES PREFERRED 1. Extensive working knowledge of elephants in a protected contact training program 2. Extensive knowledge and experience in behavioral training theory and practical application 3. Ability to inspire guests in casual (e.g., one on one) and formal (i.e., programs) venues to take action for conservation 4. Leadership and communication training and experience

Further Comments

Closing Date: October 23rd. Candidates not exceeding minimum requirements will not receive a response. Applicants selected for candidacy are required to attend an on-site working interview.


Comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, life insurance and 403B retirement benefits; two weeks of vacation and ten paid holidays annually.


Starting $24.94/hour individual rate commensurate with experience

How to Apply

Submit resume, cover letter, and 3 professional references to:                

Gina Kinzley, Zoological/ Elephant Manger

accepted via email only

Oakland Zoo
9777 Golf Links Rd
Oakland, CA 94605
Phone: 5106329525

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