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Aquarium Curator

Legoland California Sea Life Aquarium
Carlsbad, United States Posted: November 14, 2023

We are LEGOLAND California Resort - the place where FUN is built and memories are made. Across our Resort we have two fantastic LEGO themed Hotels, a Water Park, a SEA LIFE Aquarium, more than 60 rides and attractions, 20 food and beverage locations, and 14 retail stores – the opportunities here are endless!

About the Role

Delivery of industry-leading, engaging and impactful displays, animal welfare standards and programs across the site. Achieved through direct operational ownership of SEA LIFE California (SLC) curatorial team, animal collection and displays. The Curator works closely with the SEA LIFE North America (NA) Curators, Global Conservation, Welfare and Education (CWE) division, all LEGOLAND Departments (HR, Finance, Facilities, PR, Marketing, Department Managers/Directors) to deliver brand and LEGOLAND California long term visions.  The Curator will work closely with the operations and education team to ensure daily operations are appropriately managed.    

Essential Job Functions
  • Leads continued development to achieve consistently high standards of animal care in accordance with all SEA LIFE (Merlin) policies and standards. 
  • Leads the site with complete understanding of AZA policies and standards and able to lead through an AZA accreditation process.
  • Leads Curatorial team to deliver world-class aquatic and terrestrial displays through a focus on team engagement, development and implementation of innovative and pioneering display development plans.
  • Consistently improves team engagement, productivity and performance through engagement initiatives, training and structured management.
  • Collaborates with Education Specialist to ensure interpretive content and program content is up to standard. 
  • Drives conservation and education programs, partnerships and collaborations in conjunction with other departments (ie operations, LEGOLAND education, etc).
  • Manages operational and capital expenditure in line with budgets to deliver budgeted EBIT for SLC.
  • Ensures effective use and maintenance of the LSS on sites to maintain the highest animal welfare standards and deliver on SEA LIFE Experience Mandatories. Ensure systems are in place to effectively collate, report and rectify deficiencies in LSS systems or their operations.
  • Drives continuous improvement by creating and following up on recommendations for key actions by effective monitoring of month-to-month performance (e.g. KPI’s, mortality rates, breeding successes, conservation project etc.), displays appraisal and veterinary visits to each site.
  • Works with key stakeholders and develops strategies to maintain and improve existing and new displays, while meeting the SEA LIFE Cornerstones and Experience Mandatories across the region. Inspires teams to innovate and create, maximizing guest engagement with creatures.
  • Cultivates guest-obsessed teams who focus on experience as a fundamental requirement of their roles as measured by Mystery Visit, external and internal reviews and key performance indicators.
  • Ensures that all diving operations on site are managed and undertaken safely by working in adherence to the Global SEA LIFE Dive Policy and actively leads the involvement of site specialists through the Regional Dive Safety Board.
  • Consistently improves team engagement, productivity and performance through engagement initiatives, training and structured management.
  • Works creatively with own team and attraction management team to develop and deliver new and engaging displays, products, marketing campaigns and HR initiatives.
  • Is autonomous and makes decisions in line with technical and animal expertise, guiding business decisions around animal/display-related actions.
  • Has accountability for all animal/display decisions across SEA LIFE California.
  • Support for other functions with no direct oversight for Admissions, Commercial Ops, Maintenance, HR, Finance, Marketing and Public Relations.
  • Communication skills and the ability to represent and on all media outlets (TV, Radio, FB, etc) for SEA LIFE California.
About You
  • A strong background in people and performance management as gained through significant experience working as a Curator/Displays Head.
  • A thorough understanding of animal welfare principles, animal behaviour, transport and husbandry development. Close to industry with an ability to share and implement best practice initiatives/techniques.
  • An eye for detail with a practical ability to inspire and create “wow” displays with a working knowledge of the correct use of theming, lighting and water movement to deliver this.
  • Manages and is accountable for Curatorial OPEX and CAPEX budgets.
  • Identifies strategic & tactical opportunities to develop curatorial facilities and recommends appropriate courses of action.
  • Problem solves complex issues, scaling right back to the cause through relevant investigation techniques and engagement with specialist stakeholders as relevant.
  • Is empowered to develop and adapt team functions, structures, approaches and priorities in line with wider business vision.
Other Responsibilities
  • Strictly observes all appropriate financial authority mandates.
  • Demonstrates ability to “think-on-feet”.
  • Demonstrates the Merlin Values at every opportunity.
  • Follow the SEA LIFE Animal Ethical Sourcing protocols and assisting in managing site collections to maximize animal welfare.
  • Support SEA LIFE’s conservation efforts and initiatives through education and involvement.
Education and Experience
  • B.A/B.S. degree in Life Sciences (Biology, Marine Biology, Zoology, and Psychology) or a two year certification from an accredited aquarium science/zoological program is preferred.
  • 10 years of animal experience is preferred
  • 5+ years of supervisory/management experience is preferred.
  • Proven knowledge of the maintenance and operation of large life support systems including, but not limited to, sand filters, canister filters, UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, and ozone generators. 
  • SCUBA diving skills:  advanced underwater exhibit maintenance skills, advanced open-water diving and animal collection skills.  Aquarium dive program management skills and experience preferred.
  • Advanced knowledge and experience working with a wide variety of tropical and temperate marine, freshwater, and terrestrial specimens including, but not limited to, sharks, rays, jellies, corals, seahorses, cephalopods, reptiles and turtles.
  • Advanced knowledge and experience in the quarantine, diagnosis and treatment of fish disease.
  • Strong water quality testing and record keeping skills
  • Proven knowledge and skill in aquarium displays set-up and development is desirable including, but not limited to LSS design and installation, exhibit collection planning, and aquarium theming concepts.
  • Proven leadership, communication (verbal and written) and organizational skills.
  • Ability and willingness to communicate effectively in public forums to aquarium guests is preferred.
Work Environment
  • Various inside/outside areas within the facility, with varying temperatures and floor surfaces.
  • Flexible working can be considered.
Working Pattern
  • Typically flexible; works within the scope of the facilities operating days/times.
  • Will require some weekend and holidays.
  • Days worked are five out of seven (40 hours a week- Salaried Role).
  • Pay Range Starts at $80k/year

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