Education and Ambassador Animal Specialist


The Education and Ambassador Animal Specialist is a member of the Utica Zoo’s education team reporting to the Education and Conservation Manager. The Education and Ambassador Animal Specialist will help plan and implement age-appropriate educational programs about the natural world that are delivered to a variety of youth and adult audiences both on zoo grounds and in a setting away from the Zoo (such as schools, libraries, businesses, senior communities/care centers, corporate and special events). The Education and Ambassador Animal Specialist will facilitate engaging programs that speak to the Utica Zoo’s mission and conservation messaging and impart knowledge in such a way as to inspire continuing environmental stewardship.

Essential Duties, Skills, and Responsibilities:

  • Facilitate outreach and on site programs about the natural world. Constantly evaluates audiences and tailors the programs to provide information and entertainment at an appropriate level.
  • In partnership with the Education team, brainstorm and develop new and maintain current high quality nature- and inquiry-based experience curricula for education programs.
  • Earn and maintain Utica Zoo Animal Handling Certification; responsible for knowing and abiding by proper handling, animal behavior assessment, transportation, presentation, and interaction protocols for a diverse collection of animals in preparation for and during Education programs.
  • Demonstrate a strong understanding and support of positive reinforcement and choice-based training with ambassador animals. Prior experience in the application of operant conditioning using positive reinforcement with zoological animals is preferred.
  • Have the ability and interest to assist with animal husbandry of the ambassador animal collection as assigned. Prior experience with zoological animal husbandry and general care preferred.
  • Stay up to date with the most modern AZA standards for both education and animal ambassador programs.
  • Work collaboratively with Zoo Keeper and Education staff on animal ambassador usage and tracking, updates on animal behavior or medical status, and all relevant information needed to ensure the best possible welfare for the animal ambassador collection.
  • Work with the Education and Conservation Manager to keep animal fact sheets, education volunteer guides, and education curriculum materials up to date.
  • Have the ability to potentially drive both short and long distances within the state of New York to travel to program locations in a safe manner.
  • Work with the Education and Conservation Manager, other education and animal care staff as assigned, and the General Curator to create a program evaluation plan that includes both quantitative and qualitative methods, where appropriate, to measure progress and success against stated goals.
  • Understand and employ best practices in conservation messaging to connect Zoo audiences to conservation issues, threats, and solutions with the goal of encouraging environmental stewardship.
  • Work with the Education and Conservation Manager to assist with the training of teen and adult volunteers as well as collaborating with volunteers during planning and implementation of programs.
  • Understand and acknowledge the role of the education program in the larger scope of the Utica Zoo; attention to and engagement in visitor experience; outward and behind the scene appearance, both tangible and reputation, of the zoo; potential participation in social media activities and adherence to boundaries/restrictions with social media.

Other duties as assigned


  • College degree in Life Sciences, Conservation Ecology, Interpretation, Psychology, or related field
  • Experience working with a range of public audience sizes and ages, including early childhood through adult
  • Must be comfortable working in close proximity to wild and domestic animals in a zoo setting as well as handling and training select ambassador animals. Prior experience with providing care and husbandry for zoological animals, as well as experience with operant conditioning using positive reinforcement is preferred.
  • Ability to interact with a variety of constituencies, ages, and learning abilities while maintaining a positive and respectful attitude
  • Must be aware of and ready to familiarize themselves with Next Generation Science and other NYS learning standards and have the skills to assist with crafting programs to meet those standards.
  • Excellent planning and organizational skills with the ability to balance and prioritize multiple tasks and requests, and meet deadlines in a professional manner. 
  • Must successfully pass a background check and must have a valid, current driver’s license.
  • Will be required to remain up to date with required health testing and vaccinations for the safety of the animals, such as yearly TB testing.
  • Ability to lift 50 lbs. and participate in physical activities typically required of the position

Compensation and Benefits:

Job Type: Full-time

Pay: Starting at $14.20 per hour


  • Dental insurance
  • Employee assistance program
  • Employee discount
  • Health insurance
  • Health savings account
  • Paid time off
  • Retirement plan
  • Vision insurance
  • CSEA representation

How to Apply:

Please send resume AND cover letter with salary requirements to OR fill out the application below

Application materials without salary requirements will not be considered

Applications also accepted through Indeed.

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The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 8/3 for BREWFEST and will reopen with normal hours on 8/4!