Zookeeper 4


The Keeper IV- Lead Keeper position is a supervisory position reporting to the animal department managers. Some supervisory functions will take place only in the absence of animal department managers, particularly in situations that require immediate action. The Lead Keeper plays an active role in regular animal husbandry. Lead Keepers are responsible for implementing departmental activities and staff training for the area. The Lead Keeper is responsible for overseeing and performing animal husbandry, including training and enrichment, maintenance of habitats, holdings, and public areas as assigned. All keeper levels will expect to be responsible for normal keeper duties as part of the daily responsibilities. The Keeper IV-Lead Keeper will report to Animal Department Managers.
Working with the animal department managers, the Lead Keeper is required to provide and promote positive leadership in a team environment. The Lead Keeper reports to the animal department managers as part of a cohesive team. The Lead Keeper will also be trained in and remain well-versed in all animal areas.

Essential Duties, Skills, and Responsibilities:

  • Effectively monitor health and behavior of the animal collection and communicate changes to supervisor and veterinary staff. Oversee administration of medications as applicable.
  • Coordinate in the collaborative efforts pertaining to the care of the collection including, but not limited to, training, enrichment, research, and education.
  • Complete behavioral management training and both utilize and model operant conditioning and enrichment techniques.
  • Actively participate in the improvement of area policies, procedures and protocols to ensure the highest standards of care for the collection and the safety of staff and guests.
  • Demonstrate initiative towards continually improving advanced keeper duties including excellent animal care and guest interactions.
  • Use strong interpersonal skills to form and maintain positive relationships within the work environment and the ability to foster these skills in others.
  • Demonstrate leadership through example by fully supporting Utica Zoo’s strategic plan, mission and values, and work with all zoo staff to support these plans.
  • Positively promote and foster work that improves department function and productivity to exceed standards as well as using leadership to promote a team environment.
  • Demonstrate the ability to positively influence keeper staff, volunteers and interns.
  • Demonstrate the ability to meet challenges with a solution-oriented approach.
  • Actively pursue opportunities to participate in workshops, seminars, activities and conferences aimed at continually improving job knowledge and professional development with the goal of benefitting the Utica Zoo organization.
  • Promote communication and information sharing between the zoological community.
  • Represent Utica Zoo by participating in AZA programs such as TAGs, SSPs, studbooks, etc., as well as participation in SSP correspondence, transaction coordination and ZIMS input.
  • Level IV- Lead Keeper may serve as an Institutional Representative for an AZA program at the discretion of the animal managers.
  • Responsible for special projects, procedures, and goals set forth by the Animal Department Managers.
  • Support Utica Zoo’s conservation and research initiatives.
  • Must be dependable and willing to work flexible hours, weekends and holidays.
  • Supervision will be required of volunteers and interns. Supervision of staff will be at the discretion of the animal department managers and may be required in their absence.
  • The ability to use light power tools after suitable training.
  • Good communication skills, an enthusiasm for interacting with the public and a willingness to give regular talks to guests, special groups, etc.
  • While the Lead Keeper must be able to function as a team member, they also must be willing and able to provide necessary leadership and mentoring to staff.
  • The Lead Keeper should be well versed in all animal areas and able to fill in as necessary.
  • The Lead Keeper will maintain active membership in the Utica Zoo emergency response team.
  • This job description is not intended to be all-inclusive; therefore, the employee may be required to perform other reasonably related duties as assigned by management.



  • Four-year degree in biology, psychology, or related field is preferred; sufficient relevant experience will be considered.


  • A minimum of 6 years exotic animal care experience as determined by Utica Zoo is required. Sufficient relevant experience will be considered. Paid experience at an AZA accredited facility is also preferred. 
  • Good communication skills, an enthusiasm for interacting with the public and a willingness to give regular talks to guests, special groups, etc.
  • Experience with operant conditioning and enrichment techniques is preferred.
  • Must have strong written and oral skills.
  • Demonstrate computer proficiency to complete the functions of this position.
  • Must have the ability to use light power tools after suitable training.
  • Must be willing to receive TB testing annually.


  • Must obtain and maintain a valid New York driver’s license within six months of employ.


  • Must be able to work outdoors in all weather conditions and have the physical ability to perform strenuous work. Must be capable of lifting 50 lbs or more.


This job description is not intended to be all-inclusive. Therefore, the employee may be required to perform other reasonably related duties as assigned by the immediate supervisor or other management. The company reserves the right to revise or change job duties as business requirements dictate. It is mutually agreed that this job description does not constitute a written or implied contract of employment.

Utica Zoo is an EOE and provides a Smoke-free and Drug-free Work Environment


  • 8 hour shift
  • Day shift
  • Holidays
  • Weekend availability

Ability to commute/relocate:

  • Utica, NY 13501: Reliably commute or planning to relocate before starting work (Required)

Compensation and Benefits:

Job Type: Full-time

Pay: $16.50 per hour; Union negotiations are pending; starting salary modifications may occur when negotiations are complete.


  • Health Insurance -employer % paid
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Retirement Plan-Simple Plan IRA
  • Paid Time Off
  • Sick days
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Utica Zoo membership & reciprocal admission to area entertainment
  • Employee discount on zoo merchandise & concession

How to Apply:

Please send resume AND cover letter with salary requirements to: HR@uticazoo.org OR fill out the application below.

Application materials without salary requirements will not be considered.

Fill out my online form.

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