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Senior Animal Care Specialist / Marine Mammals

Mississippi Aquarium
Gulfport, United States Posted: July 02, 2024

 The position requires a highly motivated individual who will take direction from the Curators, Area Supervisors and/or Sr. Vice President of Property Operations in carrying out the animal care routine and maintenance for an assigned set of habitats. The position will also be responsible for maintaining organized written records pertaining to health, feeding, water quality, animal welfare and behavioral observations. This position is responsible for adhering to all aquarium safety protocols, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation standards.

  • Position will involve exposure to inclement weather, dust, potentially dangerous and unpredictable animal species, and potentially dangerous machinery, restraint devices and toxic chemicals and/or drugs. 
  • Occasional use of protective clothing or equipment is required e.g. goggles, mask, gloves, and gowns. 
  • This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job.
  • Duties responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.
  • A four-year degree in aquatic sciences, zoology, biology, psychology, or related field preferred
  • Seven or more years of full-time animal care experience from an accredited AMMPA or AZA institution, or equivalent
  • Certified SCUBA diver
  • Successful completion of pre-employment drug screening and SCUBA dive physical, and area swim test.
  • Detailed knowledge of the biology, behavior, and natural history of marine mammals, especially cetaceans, mustelids and other major taxa as needed
  • Detailed knowledge of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement animal behavioral conditioning techniques
  • Record-keeping, collection management experience
  • Familiarity with basic medications and vaccination programs
  • Knowledge of proper animal conformation & body conditions, gestation/incubation periods and nutrition
  • Excellent observation and communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills that generate and sustain a positive team atmosphere and professional environment
  • A valid driver’s license and the ability to travel if necessary
  • Ability to work weekends, holidays, days closed due to inclement weather, and to travel for extended periods of time to perform collecting and other duties
  • Experience in preparing and conducting public educational programs
  • Able to lift a minimum of sixty (60) pounds
  • Strong command of the English language, both written and verbal
  • Assists and collaborate with management team in overseeing all aspects of the daily care and behavioral conditioning of bottlenose dolphins, North American river otters, and other taxa as assigned.
  • Works with fellow leaders and their respective teams on the development and implementation of dynamic animal training projects and programs that serve to enhance animal care, animal management, guest experience, and public relations.
  • Under the direction of management, coordinate the execution of daily and long-term animal training goals, including enrichment, new learning, presentation/interactive program content & quality, and staff development.
  • Assist the management team in coordinating the implementation of dynamic animal training projects and programs that serve to enhance animal care, animal management, guest experience, and public relations
  • Implement and maintain a comprehensive animal enrichment program for the Animal Care Department.
  • Coordinates with management to organize staff assignments for daily presentations, guest interaction programs, and other special events.
  • Interacts on behalf of MSAQ with guests and crew members in a positive and professional manner.
  • Interacts with guests and crew members in a positive and professional manner
  • Performs the execution of all interactive programs.
  • Completion of Public Relations ‘media training’ and utilization of PR skills to participate in media events, film shoots, PR events.
  • Ensure the facility follows industry and government standards in the areas of husbandry/cleanliness, diet preparation, record keeping, and facility maintenance.
  • Serve as a mentor and oversee the developmental goals of MSAQ Volunteers, Interns, Assistant Marine Mammal Trainers, Marine Mammal Trainers I, and Marine Mammal Trainers II.  This includes providing feedback to management for staff performance appraisals.
  • Facilitates daily area operations as lead in the absence of management, including communication with other department leads as needed.
  • In absence of management, capable of overseeing veterinary procedures
  • Ensure the implementation and compliance with dive safety guidelines established by the dive safety officer
  • To perform other duties as workload necessitates, regardless of time, day, or location. 
  • Safety & Security - All Team Members are required to adhere to all Mississippi Aquarium safety and security standards.
  • Attendance & Appearance - To maximize the guest’s experience, all Team Members are required to adhere to Mississippi
  • Aquarium standard operating procedures regarding attendance and dress code policies as it relates to individual job functionality.
  • Tattoos and piercings must be appropriate and in keeping with a professional image.
  • Depending on the work area, management reserves the right to determine that tattoos will need to be covered during your shift.
  • Sales & Guest Services - Our forward-thinking business model requires listening and understanding the needs of our guests both internal and external. 
  • To that end, we must always be focused on the guest experience which is the key driver for return guest visitation and increased sales.
  • Team Partnership - All Team Members are focused on supporting each other to complete the guest experience. 
  • Therefore, supporting, facilitating, and participating in activities that promote team effectiveness is vital to our organization.
  • The physical demands and work environment 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 perform the essential functions.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally 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; taste or smell.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 60 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by the job include close vision, distance vision, color and peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is exposed to weather conditions prevalent at the time.
  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

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