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Animal Care Specialist

Seattle Aquarium
Seattle, United States Posted: September 19, 2023

The Seattle Aquarium, a leading marine conservation organization, is looking for an Animal Care Specialist to join the Bird and Mammal team. With the opening of Ocean Pavilion in 2024, the Bird and Mammal team is growing. As an Animal Care Specialist, you will be responsible for assigned husbandry duties within the Seattle Aquarium’s bird and mammal (BAM) population. This position will be caring for: sea otters, harbor seals, northern fur seals, North American river otters, various alcids and shorebirds, and the fish and invertebrates which inhabit the bird habitats.

Key functions: 
Animal Husbandry: 
  • Prepare, store, and distribute food according to established protocols that detail amounts, types, and diets; monitor feeding habits, record behavior and observations, and report any changes or abnormalities. 
  • Observe animals and evaluate behavior to determine physical and mental health and wellbeing. 
  • Perform routine maintenance, cleaning, and minor repair of animal habitats and back of house holding areas to assure the safety and wellbeing of the animals and the presentation of the species in an appropriate environment. Monitor water quality to keep aquatic animals in a healthy condition. 
  • Work directly with the Aquarium’s veterinary services to advise appropriate observations, administer medications and treatments according to established procedures and veterinarian instructions. Lead and/or aid in handling and/or restraining animals in accordance with established safety and animal wellbeing/handling procedures as necessary.  
  • Apply appropriate operant conditioning techniques and principles with an emphasis on positive reinforcement as described in the Aquarium’s Animal Training Manual to condition a variety of medical, husbandry, and natural behaviors and work through behavioral challenges. Design and maintain behavioral plans for each animal to include descriptions of training approximations and behavioral criteria.
Collaboration and Engagement:   
  • Collaborate with the Facilities Department to maintain departmental habitat quality standards through regular maintenance.  
  • All Aquarium staff and volunteers are expected to participate in advancing and integrating into their work Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Regenerative practices in alignment with our S.A.L.I.S.H. Values.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the Aquarium’s Mission and Values, including Regenerative and Equity work.
  • Assist with various requests from other departments for tours, provide content for social media or special projects, and help with special events. 
Working conditions:
  • Requires handling, working with or exposure to large, potentially dangerous animals, animal diseases, feces, and toxic chemicals. 
  • Must be able to lift up to 50 pounds at times. Occasionally needs to lift more than 50 pounds with the help of additional people.  
  • COVID 19 vaccinations and boosters recommended but not required.
  • Must be able to be on their feet six or more hours a day, be active through all physical motions. 
  • Required to work outdoors year-round, near water, on wet and slippery surfaces and at heights. 
  • Must be willing to work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays when required and an occasional 24-hour emergency call. 
Experience Required
  • Strong interpersonal, collaboration, team-building and conflict management skills. Able to share responsibilities, perform assignments in concert with the team’s efforts, and be open to giving and receiving feedback.
  • Possess coordination and dexterity necessary to ascend and descend rocky exhibits with animals still in the habitat while carrying containers of food, enrichment items and/or vet supplies.
  • Must possess organizational skills, be self-motivated, and communicate effectively. Ability to use various computer software products: MS Word, Excel, and animal management software (Tracks, ZIMS, etc).
  • Must be able to use fall restraint equipment, respirators and other appropriate safety gear, work in confined spaces. Training provided.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is required to stand; walk; sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; climb stairs; balance; stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; talk or hear; smell.
  • Specific vision abilities are required including, but not limited to, close vision, distance vision, color and peripheral vision, depth perception, contrast and the ability to adjust focus. Indoors and out in all weather conditions.
  • Must be comfortable around water and able to swim for short distances. Minimum Requirements: We will consider various combinations of relevant experience and education to meet minimum requirements.
  • BA/BS Degree in biology, marine biology, animal behavior, psychology or related field, or equivalent combination of education and experience in lieu of degree.
  • Four years of experience involving the care and husbandry of animals in a zoo, aquarium, or related environment. Preference may be given to applicants with operant conditioning experience with the species in the current Seattle Aquarium bird and mammal collection.
  • Six months of animal care experience at an AZA accredited facility desirable.
Further Comments
  • Pay is dependent on experience. Please include salary expectations in your materials.
  • Full-time staff are eligible for the Seattle Aquarium’s comprehensive benefits package to include medical, vision, dental, an employer-funded health reimbursement account, medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts, life insurance, long-term disability, 403b retirement fund with employer match, access to a subsidized ORCA pass, a Seattle Aquarium Family Plus membership and generous paid time off.

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