Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$16 adults, $10 children

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Open Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
$16 adults, $10 children

View All Rates ›

Director of Animal Care

Date Posted
January 19, 2022
Full Time

Job Details

Reports To: Chief Executive Officer
Status:  Exempt


As a member of the Zoo Leadership team, the Animal Care Director is responsible for directing, planning and accomplishing all aspects of the animal care program including animal welfare, nutrition, enrichment, husbandry training, development of protocols, exhibit design, animal health, collection planning, safety protocols and budget.   


The following duties are essential to this position. To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. These are not to be construed as exclusive or all inclusive.  Other duties may be required and assigned.

  • Develops and supports all animal care protocols, training programs, and enrichment protocols with input from Area Managers.
  • Oversees the communication between Area Managers and the Veterinary Health teams and participates in regular meetings regarding individual cases. 
  • Assures all reports (daily reports/animal transaction/medical treatment/animal recordkeeping system, etc.) are completed accurately and in a timely fashion.
  • Mentors Area Managers by goal setting, setting clear expectations, completing Performance Evaluations, and conducting formal and informal meetings. Fosters a sense of buy-in from animal care staff by soliciting input and compromise. Encourages professional development.
  • Develops and oversees updates to the Zoo’s animal collection plan and initiates the acquisition/dispositions process.
  • In collaboration with other leadership team members, manages the Zoo’s Safety and Emergency Plan, including animal escape drills and dart team.
  • Oversees compliance of standards from governing organizations including, but not limited to USDA, AZA, USF&W, and OSHA.
  • Works with the Director of Facilities to identify maintenance needs, prioritize projects, design new construction and major renovations.
  • Assists with design and development of landscapes in and outside of animal exhibits including plant care protocols.
  • Champion for conservation initiatives that further advance the Zoo’s involvement and role in in-situ projects, species preservation, and sustainability efforts.
  • Oversees the Zoo’s research program in cooperation with the Research Committee.
  • Responsible for scheduling and managing animal care teams including submitting payroll time sheets, approving PTO, and overall department organization and staffing needs.
  • Collaborates with all other departments (Engagement, Development, Marketing, etc.) to accomplish strategic initiatives of the Blank Park Zoo.
  • Involved in professional networking, public relations, media contacts, public speaking and assistance in development, marketing and fundraising activities.
  • Fosters relationships with other zoo professionals, institutions, and organizations.
  • Active, contributing member of AZA.
  • Cultivate partnerships with in the local community, universities, and other organizations to improve animal welfare, research, safety procedures, etc.
  • Other duties as assigned.


Direct reports include the Animal Care Area Managers and Lead Veterinarian.



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.

  1. Previous supervisory experience in animal related field. Historical success in growing and advancing staff preferred.
  2. High level of knowledge of animal care protocols, AZA standards, and ethical animal care practices
  3. High level of proficiency in grammar and spelling. 
  4. Ability to handle a flexible workload with a variety of assignments.
  5. Must be able to operate independently, exercise initiative, and demonstrate capacity for detail and follow-up.
  6. Must be able to maintain work hours that will serve the needs of the Foundation
  7. Ability to act calmly and professionally in all situations such as emergencies.


  1. Resourceful - Understanding of, or has the ability to, research all applicable topics as they relate to modern zoological management, operations of an attraction and customer service.
  2. Flexible - Ability to handle a flexible workload with a variety of assignments while also maintaining composure in an environment that can be stressful.
  3. Initiative - Must be self-motivated and exercise initiative to take on projects, solve problems, both independently or with a team and demonstrate capacity for detail and follow-up.
  4. Positive - Must be a positive, effective team leader and be able to establish professional working relationships.
  5. Clear communication skills, both verbal and written
  6. Customer–oriented – Must be able to exercise professional customer service skills at all times, with many different types of people and all situations.
  7. Innovative - Ability to propose solutions to areas of concern and risk assessment.
  8. Collaborator – ability to bring people of different backgrounds, skills, and personalities together with the common purpose of serving the animals at the Zoo.


Completion of four years of college and five years of experience in zoological animal care, including at least two years in a personnel management role OR any equivalent combination in which education and experience are interchangeable.


  • Valid Iowa motor vehicle license (or the ability to acquire)
  • First Aid / CPR training (or the ability to acquire)


Ability to communicate effectively with all ages of visitors, staff, and other professionals – both within the zoological field and the local community.


All normal computer business skills required.


Ability to understand budgets, timelines, collection planning, and staffing schedules        


Ability to understand and write employee evaluations, create schedules, set priorities, understand and use goal setting for self and staff, be able to collaborate and prioritize regular work and projects


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to successfully perform the essential functions.

  • Standing – Approximately greater than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Walking – Approximately greater than 2/3 of on-the-job time on uneven surfaces such as hills, snow, ice, grass, mud, etc.
  • Sitting – Approximately less than 2/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Driving – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Use of hands to lift or handle – Approximately between than 1/2 and 2/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Reaching with hands and arms – Approximately between 1/3 and 2/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Climbing or balancing – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Stooping, kneeling, crouching or crawling – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Talking or hearing – Approximately greater than 2/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Tasting or smelling – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Weight lifted/Force exerted – Ability to bend, twist, lift >50 pounds, etc. to perform maintenance and animal care tasks, non-continuously.
  • Vision – Close vision, distant vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.


Ability to function in all types of weather including extreme heat and cold.

Contact Information


Complete the Blank Park Zoo online application and attach cover letter and resume.

Click here to apply online.

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