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Senior Bird Keeper

Audubon Aquarium
New Orleans, United States Posted: June 01, 2024

A highly advanced level animal keeper position: this position encompasses highly skilled professional and technical work in the daily care of assigned animals and habitats, combined with a history of high-performance experience.  A Senior Keeper is held to the highest expectations of a Keeper level and is a role model and mentor to other staff in behavior and experience. Performs routine husbandry duties and assigned senior level duties; works under minimal supervision in a wide range of functions; trains animal keepers on tasks, routines and skills; trains interns and volunteer staff; initiates and participates in the development of SOP’s, training manuals, studbooks, SSP’s, research, etc. Senior Keepers are critical thinkers and perform professionally when dealing with difficult situations. All Senior Keepers must have a good balance of animal expertise and the ability to work with people. Senior Keepers are to always represent Audubon Nature Institute in a professional manner and work toward the Audubon’s and their facility’s missions.

Essential Duties:
  • Perform routine husbandry- feed prescribed diets, monitor and report diet consumption, observe and report any health or behavioral abnormalities of all assigned animal specimens to immediate supervisor daily, assist hospital staff with health monitoring and assessment, follow all Standard Operating Procedures for assigned areas.
  • Can function as point person in the absence of supervisory level staff.
  • Demonstrated success and advanced knowledge of modern aviculture techniques and practices in an AZA zoological setting (i.e., capture and restraint, incubation, breeding, hand-rearing).
  • The ability to serve as a mentor and resource to other staff. 
  • Leads by example and provides guidance, and identifies resources needed to accomplish section goals.  
  • Possesses strong communication skills, including listening and thoughtful dialogue.  Assumes the role as communicator for the section when needed. 
  • Regularly proposes solutions to problems. Looks for creative and productive ways to address problems. 
  • A section leader taking ownership of short- and long-term animals management goals aimed at reducing stress, enhancing welfare, and advancing husbandry practices.  Has a positive impact on teambuilding and willingly participates in AZA programs (i.e., studbooks, committees, SSPs and TAGS).
  • Perform approved Behavioral Enrichment activities and create new enrichment based on the needs of the animal(s).
  • Have a good understanding of advanced operant conditioning techniques; skills are to grow as keeper becomes more experienced with time. Use advanced knowledge to increase the quality of life of the collection. Offer training assistance and expertise to other staff.
  • Perform routine maintenance of the facilities by maintaining and reporting any structural or mechanical problems; interact with the Operations staff as needed.
  • Accurate recordkeeping for short- and long-term monitoring of health, behavior, tracking trends and advancing animal practices. (i.e., ZIMS, TRACKS)
  • Respond to animal, guest and building emergencies according to approved protocols. Be able to be a team player or a leader during emergencies by acting in a calm, professional, organized manner.
  • Provide quality guest service to both internal and external guests by maintaining a positive attitude and professional appearance; keepers must adhere to all Audubon Image guidelines.
  • Ability to engage guests in pursuit of education and conservation goals.  This includes chats, tours, media appearances, ambassador animal programs, etc. Able to represent Audubon Nature Institute with        professionalism and in support of mission-oriented efforts. 
  • Stay up to date on current protocols in all trained areas of assignment and adapt to changes as needed.
  • Participate in established conservation programs.
  • Perform all other duties as assigned.
  • Must be willing to work weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
To deliver on the Audubon mission, the Senior Bird Keeper 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.
  • Be required to 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 to include on and off grounds educational and media presentations.
  • Develop and present educational programs as required. 
  • Function as an interpreter and represent ANI as a spokesperson. 
  • Compose animal and exhibit information for publication in the following: Audubon’s website, AZA’s website and other publications.
  • Operate a financially self-sufficient collection of museums and parks
  • Perform basic arithmetic functions and process financial information.
  • 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 programs.
  • Promote, participate in and oversee departmental research and conservation programs
  • Provide a guest experience of outstanding quality
  • 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.
To deliver on the Audubon service promise, the Senior Bird Keeper will: 
  • Make eye contact with every customer encounter, smile at every person, offer friendly phrases and greetings.
  • Wear an identification badge.
  • Walk individual to destination instead of pointing; aid people who look confused.
  • Assume ownership of potential safety hazards (wipe-up spill, pick up trash).  Always have the camera-ready look.
  • Share
  • Maintain positive attitude, pleasant tone of voice (remember it is not what you say, but how you say it).
  • Coach coworkers on service expectations.
  • Utilize the power of teamwork to give excellent service.
  • Know when to involve management.
  • Know the answers to questions or seek out the answers.
  • Utilize proper phone etiquette (answer phone within three rings, smile before answering call, ask for permission and wait for response before placing caller on hold).
  • Ensure work area is free of food, drink, socialization, and personal business.
  • Follow Dress Code Policy on clothing and grooming.
  • Keep unpleasant concerns behind closed doors (vent backstage).
  • N/A 
  • Minimum of five years of unpaid or paid experience in a zoological facility, public aquarium, wildlife facility, aviary, or similar facility with a focus on avian species OR, demonstrated and confirmed skill set, and knowledge required for the position is required.
  • An AZA accredited public facility is preferred. 
  • Knowledge of modern aviculture and zoo keeping techniques and practices in an AZA zoological setting.
  • Knowledge of breeding, incubation, and hand-rearing avian species.
  • Have a good understanding of operant conditioning techniques.
  • High School diploma (or equivalent) and a degree from a recognized college or university are required.
  • College course work in zoology, biology, animal science or a related field is preferred; or an equivalent level of work experience and education as determined by the hiring authority.  
  • Must maintain a valid driver’s license.
  • SCUBA certification is a plus.
  • First Aid/ CPR is a plus.
  • If SCUBA certified, then the Senior Bird Keeper will need to demonstrate the ability to: 
  • swim efficiently at the surface,
  • swim efficiently underwater,
  • tow another diver while in full SCUBA gear,
  • tread water/float on the surface,
  • assemble, ditch and don SCUBA gear,
  • control of buoyancy using SCUBA,
  • clear SCUBA mask and swim without a mask underwater,
  • regulator skills – recover and clear, and breathe through free-flowing regulator, and
  • demonstrate comfort underwater in all conditions, stressful or otherwise.
Software Requirements:  
  • Proven competency in the application of Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, and Excel computer programs is required.
  • Experience with Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) is preferred.
Machinery/Tools/Equipment Requirements:  
  • Basic knowledge of power tools is a plus.
Physical Requirements:
  • Performing strenuous, fast-paced work both indoors and outdoors.
  • Sitting or standing, bending, and stooping 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. 
  • Must be able to swim.
Environmental/Working Conditions:
  • Maintain regular attendance in compliance with Audubon standards, as required by scheduling which may vary according to the needs of the organization. 
  • Willingness to work weekends, holidays, irregular hours and be available based on special needs/circumstances on a 24-hour basis. 
  • Willingness to work long hours between breaks or meals as 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. 
  • Maintain off-exhibit areas in a clean, organized and safe fashion. 
  • Willingness to work under and handle stress in an appropriate manner.
  • May be exposed to high, medium, or low noise intensity. 
  • May be exposed to extreme fluctuations in temperatures.
  • May be exposed to ozone.
  • Willingness to work around and handle raw seafood, including shellfish. 
  • Oversee pest control efforts in section.
  • Willingness to serve on the Aquarium’s Hurricane Team if necessary.

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