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Director of Animal Care

National Aquarium
Baltimore, United States Posted: April 28, 2023


The Director of Animal Care provides leadership and guidance for our Animal Care operations in alignment with the vision and mission of the National Aquarium and is a key role within the Animal Care & Welfare (ACW) Division and the organization. This position requires extensive knowledge of the care and wellbeing of animals in an aquarium setting. The Director is responsible for direct oversight of the curatorial team. This includes all areas of animal care, permitting, participation in resident population planning and exhibit design, as well as conservation and guest-facing programs. The Director partners with other Directors within ACW to develop plans and programs that enhance animal wellbeing, and assists the SVP/Chief Animal Welfare Officer to determine strategic priorities and goals related to animal care and wellbeing. The Director also partners with other teams within the National Aquarium to support organizational goals and represent the interests of the animal care teams.

  • Creates and supports a work culture which is supportive, promotes teamwork, employee engagement and development, and promotes transparent communication and productive problem-solving.
  • Oversight of curatorial team, inclusive of Blue Wonders, Australia & Rainforest, Animal Care and Rescue Center, Marine Mammal, and Behavioral Husbandry, and is the senior manager for the National Aquarium’s resident population. This includes scheduling, mentoring and coaching, performance management and talent recruitment and retention for animal care teams.
  • Provides direction for daily operations of all animal care areas to ensure the wellbeing, acquisition, and display of aquatic, avian, mammal and horticulture species in our care.
  • In partnership with the SVP/Chief Animal Welfare Officer, ACW Directors and Animal Care Curators, develops policies that support animal care and wellbeing. This includes direct collaboration with peers in Animal Health, Animal Rescue, Dive Programs, Life Support and Facilities.
  • In partnership with the SVP/Chief Animal Welfare Officer, ACW Directors and Curators, develops and updates an Institutional Collection Plan which supports organizational goals of animal wellbeing, species and habitat conservation, population sustainability, and education.
  • In partnership with the SVP/Chief Animal Welfare Officer, ACW Directors and Curators, and the Planning & Design Department, develops and executes both short- and long-term animal exhibit plans.
  • Ensures animal habitats and care protocols and policies are compliant with state, federal and AZA standards. This includes weekly walk-throughs of all designated areas and addressing identified issues in a timely manner.
  • Demonstrates knowledge and leadership for animal care practices and provides mentorship and coaching to all animal care staff.
  • Provides guidance for the Marine Ops team, which is responsible for boat operation and maintenance, and development of field operations, inclusive of safety standards, animal collection and filed conservation and research programs within ACW.
  • Responsible for oversight and management of animal care team budgets.
  • Partners with Safety Manager to establish safety programs in compliance with OSHA guidelines and requirements.
  • Collaborates with other National Aquarium teams to enhance and support organizational priorities and programs, including long-term planning, sustainable operation practices and engaging educational and guest-facing programs.
  • Partners with the Communications and Learning & Engagement teams through development of and participation in public programs, media requests and other public-facing messaging to promote the National Aquarium’s initiatives. Ensures animal care team members adhere to this as well.
  • Partners with the Philanthropy team to support donor cultivation, grant proposals and other funding opportunities. Ensures animal care team members adhere to this as well.
  • Represents the National Aquarium with governmental agencies, other organizations, and AZA as needed.
  • Participates in National Aquarium collaborative teams and committees to advance goals as needed.
  • Performs other duties as assigned by the SVP/Chief Animal Welfare Officer.
  • Minimum 10 years of experience in public aquariums or zoos, 5 of which are in a supervisory/management capacity, preferably at an AZA accredited institution.
  • Bachelor of Science degree in marine sciences, biology, zoology or related field required. Advanced degrees are preferred.
  • Must possess or have ability to obtain a Maryland driver’s license.
  • SCUBA certification or ability to obtain is preferred.
  • Must have demonstrated experience with animal welfare assessment practices and a strong dedication to improving processes that enhance animal wellbeing.
  • Must have demonstrated knowledge of animal care practices, aquatic life support systems & operations, animal nutrition and animal veterinary practices.
  • Excellent observational skills to watch for any signs of illness or injury, monitor eating pattern or any changes in behavior of resident population animals.
  • Must be able to work in a team environment and have the ability to accomplish goals by developing effective and knowledgeable teams.
  • Ability to work collaboratively to develop, plan, and implement short- and long-range goals.
  • Demonstrated ability to make sound decisions in the absence of supervision, assume responsibility without direction and willingness to assist in achieving institutional goals.
  • Must demonstrate effective communication skills with all staff, including supervisor, team reports and colleagues.
  • Must be able to interact with our guests in a positive and professional manner.
  • Ability to compose and edit written materials.
  • Experience with in situ conservation programs is preferred.
  • Skills in plumbing and carpentry are preferred.
  • Small boat handling skills are preferred.
  • Knowledge of Federal and State of Maryland permitting necessary for collection
  • and display of resident population species.
  • Knowledge and experience in aquatic animal collecting techniques is preferred.
  • Ability to supervise staff and manage human resources effectively.
  • Knowledge of and ability to apply ethical management principles and practices.
  • Ability to work within and maintain the National Aquarium’s I2SEE values
  • Demonstrated commitment to the National Aquarium’s leadership competencies.
  • Ability to implement financial plans and budgets and identify, secure and manage resources.
  • Skilled in database management and MS Office products. Experience with TRACKS is preferred.
  • Ability to work in extreme conditions outdoors, in the field and indoors with irregular hours and schedules.
  • Ability to work under and handle stress in an appropriate manner.
  • Must be willing to work flexible hours including weekends, evenings, and holidays.
  • Must be able to work in moderately noisy environments, dirty conditions, and cramped spaces, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Must be willing and able to handle raw seafood as needed.
  • Must be able to work with potentially hazardous chemicals associated with analysis and treatment of exhibits.
  • Must be safety conscious.

All Interested applicants must submit a letter of intent, resume, and three professional references.  The application deadline is April 30, 2023.  

The National Aquarium is committed to diversity and invites individuals who bring a diversity of culture, experience, and ideas to apply.


Recently named one of Baltimore’s Best Places to Work, the National Aquarium opened in 1981 as a nonprofit aquatic education and conservation organization, the jewel of the city’s Inner Harbor redevelopment. SmartCEO Magazine honored the National Aquarium with the Healthiest Workplace award and the Corporate Culture award in 2016. With a mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, the Aquarium is consistently ranked one of the nation’s two top aquariums and has hosted over 51 million guests since opening.

Today, the National Aquarium builds on a history of local, regional and global conservation initiatives that provide real solutions for protecting marine life, ecosystems and aquatic communities. Its Animal Rescue team has rescued, rehabilitated and released hundreds of marine mammals and endangered sea turtles throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Its Animal Care and Welfare teams participate in important research efforts to confront pressing ocean conservation issues and advocate for smarter policies at local, state and federal levels. Through education, research, conservation action and advocacy, the National Aquarium is pursuing a vision to change the way humanity cares for our ocean planet.

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