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Assistant Curator of Children’s Zoo

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens

Job Description


The San Francisco Zoological Society ("Society") is a non-profit institution that manages and raises funds for San Francisco Zoo and Gardens ("Zoo"). The Society's mission, supra, is summarized as the 3 c's: to connect our visitors with wildlife so that they care about nature and ultimately conserve it. The Society's leadership team is comprised of a President & Executive Director as well as a professional team of Senior Managers. The Society endeavors to meet or exceed the standards of its industry peers, including those established by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums ("AZA"). For over 25 years, the Society has been continuously accredited by the AZA.

Upholds the Society's mission and core values (Respect, Professionalism, Resiliency, Efficiency and Equality) and other policies/procedures outlined in the Employee Handbook and elsewhere.




Under the general supervision of the Senior Curator of the Exploration Zone, this Assistant Curator position provides direct supervision of assigned Animal Keepers. Duties include coordinating the activities of a section of the Zoo, facilitating the work of the Animal Keepers by ensuring that the keepers have the necessary tools, equipment and supplies; responsible for administrative functions such as scheduling, timekeeping, evaluations and progressive discipline. Orders, receives and distributes materials, supplies and food stuffs; and facilitates animal care operations within a section of the Zoo; reviews, develops and/or revises standard operating procedures or other reports; conducts or coordinates safety training.



Knowledge, Abilities and Skills: Requires extensive knowledge of the care and feeding of zoo animals, animal behavior and hazards of working with zoo animals; zoo rules, policies and procedures; includes knowledge of animal diseases and methods of preventing the spread of contagious disease, and principles of biology and zoology. Ability to perform heavy work including working safely and effectively with dangerous or exotic mammals, birds, reptiles and working effectively with Zoo employees as needed; keep operational records; prepare reports; deal courteously and effectively with the public. Must be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Experience in the following areas is essential.

  • Extensive experience in animal training, and development of choice and control protocols for ambassador species
  • Familiarity with current AZA standards for ambassador species
  • Experience teaching animal training, mentoring and developing other trainers
  • Experience with both domestic and exotic species. In particular, experience with ungulates
  • Experience managing volunteer programs for both youth and adults

Requirements: This position requires a minimum of 3 years of progressive animal husbandry experience in an AZA institution. A bachelor's degree in a related field is preferred




  • Supervises the work of Animal Keepers as assigned; coordinates and monitors sectional operations such as maintenance and repair activities, safety training, writing and updating Standard Operating Procedures and other assigned tasks.
  • Responsible for administrative functions including scheduling, timekeeping, repair work orders and the ordering, receipt and distribution of materials, supplies and food stuffs.
  • Implements, develops and/or revises standard operating procedures, logs of animal observations and/or daily operations, or other reports; conducts or coordinates safety training.
  • Inspects assigned section to ensure proper care, maintenance and safety of animals, their quarters and facilities; attempts to resolve problems which arise in regard to food, maintenance and safety.
  • Supports and/or directs animal related projects (introductions, transfers, veterinary needs) in accordance with curators' guidance and direction.
  • Assists other Zoo personnel with exhibit upkeep or renovation in accordance with modern zoological practices, AZA standards and guidelines, and USDA requirements.
  • Facilitates institutional core values throughout division through ongoing ethical engagement with staff.
  • Interfaces with Veterinary, Wellness, and Nutrition staff to advance animal care.
  • Coordinates and works with other departments to implement educational programs, activities in public relations, membership, development and other support services for both sections.
  • Serve as Curator in Charge, may serve on Armed Response Team and may serve a role in native wildlife response.
  • May be required to perform the duties of an animal keeper on an as-needed



  • Assists marketing and development staff in promoting the Zoo's public image and attaining the Zoo's public relations and community service objectives.
  • Assists the Curator in maintaining contacts with individuals and organizations involved in promoting worldwide conservation ethics and goals.
  • Performs other duties as required and assigned.


  • Represents management and demonstrates a commitment to the Zoo's mission statement and its' core values as well as a commitment to institutional DEAI values.
  • Performs duties in a service-oriented manner.
  • Recognizes the needs of others and treats others with respect and dignity.
  • Maintains good work habits and adheres to the employee handbook and all policies and procedures.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a work environment free from discrimination and sexual harassment and supports the Office's commitment to equal employment opportunities.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety and works with Safety Officer as needed.
  • Demonstrates good presentation skills in dealing with the public, Zoo Board and internal and external stakeholders.


SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES: Directly supervises employees, interns, and volunteers. Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization's policies, applicable laws, and relevant labor laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems; ensuring compliance with contracted obligations.



QUALIFICATIONS: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.



EXPERIENCE: Minimum five years paid experience in animal husbandry and captive animal management. Supervisory and curatorial experience in a major zoological institution preferred. Significant lead experience may substitute for supervisory and curatorial experience.



EDUCATION: Degree in zoology, biology, wildlife management, or related field preferred.




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