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Assistant Curator of Aquatic Husbandry

Audubon Aquarium
New Orleans, United States Posted: May 18, 2023

The Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium is looking for an engaging leader skilled in guiding and unifying teams towards excellence in animal care and conservation.  The Assistant Curator of Aquatic Husbandry is the direct supervisor to aquarists at the Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium (AAI).  The Assistant Curator reports to the Director of Husbandry and oversees the aquatics collection and ensures industry best practices at the Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium.  They develop departmental procedures, assist with collection plans, and monitor all aspects of aquatic exhibitry and animal care.  They set goals and expectations for the AAI aquarists.  They participate in hiring staff, performance evaluations and disciplinary action as needed.  The Assistant Curator works closely with veterinary staff, members of the other Husbandry Department divisions and all other Audubon Nature Institute departments.  The Assistant Curator of Aquatic Husbandry is a working curatorial position. 

To deliver on the Audubon mission, the Assistant Curator of Aquatic Husbandry will: 
Provide a guest experience of outstanding quality 
  • Approach all encounters with employees and guests in a friendly, service-oriented manner. 
  • Maintain the highest standards related to the day-to-day operations of the Husbandry Department
  • Work evening, weekend, holiday hours – required
  • Return telephone messages and e-mails in a timely fashion 
  • Handle problems in the workplace, including anticipating, preventing, identifying, and solving problems as necessary.
  • Identify and correct minor or routine maintenance problems in a timely manner and report other maintenance needs 
  • Interact positively with the public and co-workers.
  • Make decisions consistent with Audubon Nature Institute policies and procedures. 
  • Assist with daily duties in all sections as required.
  • Perform facility and exhibit maintenance, including but not limited to, trash and debris removal, floor cleaning, painting, building repair, horticultural duties, etc.  
  • Establish and maintain effective, efficient and cooperative relationships with employees, senior administration, vendors and customers.  
  • Maintain high standards of personal appearance and grooming, including proper uniform standards, 
  • Comply at all times with Audubon Nature Institute standards and regulations to encourage safe and efficient operations.  
Weave quality entertainment through the guest experience. 
  • Work within the guidelines and mission of the Audubon Nature Institute.    
  • Convey information and ideas clearly. 
  • Conduct behind-the-scenes tours for VIP’s, donors, and Audubon Education programs as scheduled.
  • Interact with the public which may include on and off grounds educational and media presentations.
  • Develop and present educational programs as required. 
  • Function as an interpreter and an ANI spokesperson.  
  • Compose animal and exhibit information for publication in the following: Audubon’s website, AZA’s website and other publications.
  • Exhibit the diversity of wildlife.
Animal Care
  • Have experience managing collections preferably reptiles, fishes, amphibians and invertebrates.  This includes knowledge of animal anatomy, behavior, recognition and treatment of animal health concerns, quarantine protocols, animal safety concerns and cross contamination prevention.  
  • Partner with veterinary team and lead aquarists to recognize animal health concerns and carry out treatments as prescribed. 
  • Maintain current knowledge of all specimens under their care, their natural history (biology and environmental needs) and husbandry requirements through hands on experience, upkeep with current literature, active professional networking development, keeper exchange programs and conference participation as approved.  Improve upon current Audubon husbandry practices, developing procedures aimed at increasing efficiency and advance animal care.  
  • Professional experience with AZA compliance including Code of Ethics, AZA Standards for Accreditation and AZA Population Management guidelines.  Ability to recognize deficiencies in these areas and take action to correct problems. 
  • Daily oversight of UDSA compliance, overseeing that proper protocols are followed to pass USDA inspections. 
  • Serve as oversight for compliance with all Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium established protocols for animal care including, but not limited to, diet, exhibit maintenance, veterinary treatment, recordkeeping, enrichment and staff safety. 
  • Ensure compliance with Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium established protocols for animal care including, but not limited to, diet administration, exhibit maintenance, behavioral conditioning, recordkeeping and safety.  Directs/ organizes staff to remedy problems. 
  • Supervise and encourage viable breeding, husbandry and conservation programs for species within the collection, ensure compliance and cooperation with all AZA programs.  
  • Supervise the acquisition of new specimens in accordance with AZA animal management and welfare guidelines and AAI acquisition and transfer protocols and procedures. Instruct keeper staff in the proactive, responsible planning of acquisitions and transfers in accordance with approved collection plans.  
  • Work with Curator team to support the departmental goals and priorities for AAI.
  • Work collaboratively with curatorial staff and other departments to support large gallery projects/ renovations; mentor aquarists through exhibit improvements and development of new exhibits based on approved timelines. 
  • Leads regular sub-department meetings to develop goals, evaluate progress and facilitate open communication among staff.  
  • Actively promote and prioritize accurate and up to date recordkeeping within the AAI team to ensure quality animal management and welfare at or above industry standards.  Assist the registrar with aquarist accountability, assessing trends and developing improvements in recordkeeping efficiency and accuracy. 
  • Work individually with aquarists to develop personal goals and give regular feedback on performance.
  • Work with aquarists to develop collection plans for all aquarist galleries and review annually with curatorial staff.
  • Instruct new personnel in methods of animal care consistent with policies and procedures.   Design and implement new personnel training programs for AAI staff.   

The above listed duties are general statements of required major duties and responsibilities performed on a regular and continuous basis.  They do not exclude other duties as assigned.   

  • Operate a financially self- sufficient collection of museums and parks 
  • Perform basic arithmetic functions and process financial information.
  • Assist with the preparation of the departmental operating budget as needed
  • Strive to operate within budget limitations
  • Manage time effectively to eliminate unnecessary overtime.
  • Enhance the care and survival of wildlife through research and conservation
  • Encourage and support Audubon breeding programs aimed at decreasing the need for wild collection
  • Promote, participate in and oversee departmental research and conservation programs
To deliver on the Audubon service promise, the Assistant Curator will:
  • Make eye contact with every customer encounter, smile at every person, offer friendly phrases and greetings.
  • Wear identification badge.
  • Go above and beyond to offer assistance to guests in need.
  • Assume ownership of potential safety hazards (wipe-up spill, pick up trash).  
  • Assume ownership of camera-ready standards in assigned exhibit spaces. 
  • Use proper professional phone etiquette when answering phones on behalf of Audubon.
  • Refrain from cell phone use in the public space, maintaining a welcome, approachable appearance.
  • Must meet the standards of guest engagement -positive attitude, pleasant tone of voice, willingness to go above and beyond.   
  • Coach coworkers, interns and volunteers on service expectations, leading by example
  • Utilize the power of teamwork to give excellent service.  Work with your department and others in pursuit of excellence in customer service.   
  • Shares information vital to team and ANI success freely and in a timely manner Identifies and corrects poos communications situations and habits.  Proactively works to ensure good communications within and outside of departmental team.  Assists curatorial staff in creating strategies to ensure good communication internal and external to the departmental team.  
  • Know when to involve management to correct problems in a timely fashion, ideally before they impact a guest. 
  • Initiate and execute team building activities and encourage others in the same.
  • Acknowledge guests when working in the public space and seize every opportunity to engage guests in the wonders of nature 
  • Know the answers to questions or seek out the answers in an attempt to exceed guest expectations.
  • Ensure work area is free of food, drink, socialization, and personal business.
  • Follow Dress Code Policy on clothing and grooming.   Be an ambassador of Audubon at all times.  
  • Keep unpleasant concerns behind closed doors.    Keep the guest space a positive environment. 

Supervises the aquarist staff and, with Curator, manages interns and volunteers

  • Minimum of five years of experience in a zoological facility or public aquarium, OR, demonstrated and confirmed skill set and knowledge required for the position as stated in the job description (ANI Internal candidates only) is required. AZA accredited public aquarium facility is preferred. 
  • Paid experience in a zoological facility is required, supervisory experience preferred.  
  • Significant experience in the care of zoological exhibits with a primary focus on fishes and aquatic invertebrates.  
  • Strong familiarity with care of reptiles and amphibians.
  • Plumbing, constriction and exhibit renovation experience required. 
  • Demonstration of leadership, strong people skills, and strong communication skills.
  • Strong working knowledge of project management, development and execution. 
  • High School diploma (or equivalent) and a degree from a recognized college or university are required.  College course work in zoology, biology, animal science, fisheries science, mariculture/aquaculture or related field is preferred.  
  • Accurate oral and written communication skills. Good knowledge of zoonotic diseases and their prevention
  • Must maintain a valid driver’s license
  • SCUBA certification required
  • First Aid/ CPR preferred
Software Requirements: 
  • Proven competency in the application of Microsoft Office, Word, PowerPoint and Excel computer programs is required.
  • Machinery/Tools/Equipment Requirements:  
  • General understanding of the use of basic power tools. 
  • Basic carpentry, plumbing and horticultural skills are considered an asset.
Physical Requirements:
  • Sitting or standing, bending, stooping and per OSHA regulations:  Heavy work involving lifting no more than 100 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 50 pounds.  
  • Candidate is expected to perform keeper duties as needed
  • Must be able to swim.
Environmental/Working Conditions:
  • Working long hours between breaks or meals required.
  • Willingness to work irregular hours and be available based on special needs/circumstances on a 24 hour basis.
  • Ability to work under and handle stress in an appropriate manner required.
  • Maintain off-exhibit areas in a clean, organized and safe fashion.
  • May be exposed to high, medium, or low noise intensity.
  • Exposure to fluctuations in temperatures is required.
  • Willingness to work outdoors, lift heavy objects, and risk periodic exposure to fairly predictable and controllable hazards associated with wild animals and zoonotic diseases. 
  • Oversee pest control efforts in section.
  • Willingness to serve on the Aquarium’s Hurricane Team if necessary.

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