Animal Care Keeper – African Safari – LIVING DESERT DBA THE LIVING DESERT – Palm Desert

Job Type



Position Summary:

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens Animal Care Keeper is responsible for providing the highest quality daily care, husbandry, and behavioral advancement of a defined portion of The Living Desert’s (TLD) animal residents and habitats.

The Animal Care team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.” The team embraces a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo and inclusive culture. The Animal Care team is a strong, cohesive team working to deliver uncompromising excellence in animal care, welfare, and guest engagement while working for the greater good of the zoo and its mission.

A TLD Animal Care Keeper is an example to others while working towards an improved future and shared vision within our organization. This position educates, engages, and provides exemplary guest service connections for all Zoo guests and internal programs. Each Animal Care Keeper is encouraged to lead from where they are, bring innovative ideas forward and provide a high level of well-being for each individual in their care.

Animal Care Keeper – African Safari:

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens currently has 2 African Safari Animal Care positions open for recruitment.

The African Safari keepers oversee a diverse range of animals in the Africa area which includes small to large arid land hoof stock (from African and American regions), including a herd of 10 giraffe, small to large carnivores and small to large avian species. Individuals with previous hands-on avian, carnivore or hoof stock training experience with foot/hoof work, blood draw and injection behaviors will be a plus for the African Safari position. Keepers should be skilled in, or open to, learning operant conditioning of animals, including sharing these skills for guest connections in a dynamic and modern approach.

Job description is a summary of the typical duties of the role, not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks, and duties.

Animal Care Keeper Tasks, Duties & Responsibilities:


  • Must represent The Living Desert in a professional manner
  • General knowledge of zoological animal husbandry, natural history, and observational skills
  • Ability to use critical thinking skills to trouble shoot issues and reveal solutions to move the animal team forward
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure and remain levelheaded in emergency situations
  • Keep accurate and detailed records of daily observations of area animals containing information regarding behavior, meal intake, fecal output, behavior, health, weight, breeding, aggression, behavioral enrichment, capture/restraint, prescribed medical treatments
  • Attend and participate in team meetings to discuss the needs of the animal residents, resolve challenges, and learn new procedures and policies
  • Contribute and maintain a safe, positive, and productive workplace environment for animals, guests, and team members


  • Diet/meal preparation, feeding and restocking of feed supplies as needed and as prescribed
  • Daily cleaning and general maintenance of animal habitats, service areas, holding units, and support areas utilizing various tools, instruments, disinfectants; and with the ability to do so safely
  • As assigned, assist with medical treatments such as prescribed medication/treatments, weighing/measuring, surgery, hand injections, restraint/capture of animals, prepare & administer any required medications &/or supplements, collect fecal, urine & other samples as requested by the veterinarian
  • Continue education on the animal residents; research scientific journals, create environments that induce breeding and welfare goals and recommended habitat design options


  • Participates with daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning, and enriching experiences of the animal residents
  • Condition behaviors for animal management and welfare advancement, and educational programming according to accepted training culture


  • Ability to provide and accept feedback professionally and effectively
  • Strong organizational and communication skills with the ability to accurately report daily information written, orally and with computer programs
  • Motivated, self-starter with time management skills who can work with minimal supervision.
  • Able to establish and maintain effective and professional working relations with co-workers and other department personnel
  • Communication skills for effective working relationships with all Zoo staff and outside professionals.
  • Ability to speak to guests and give animal presentations both informally and formally

Guest Engagement:

  • Excellent guest service and communication skills for effective and engaging public speaking; Gives knowledgeable and engaging tours/talks for guests, staff, and donors
  • Participate in guest education programs on or off-site, formal, and informal animal presentations, scheduled and impromptu keeper talks and provide accurate, effective, and engaging presentations; Assist Animal Care Curator or Director of Animal Care with development of connection messaging
  • Assist other departments (i.e. Development/Marketing, Social Media, Special Events, and Education) in their duties by providing educational, animal programs or appearances for the media, promotional events, donors or on/off-site events, as assigned by Animal Care Management


  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals under the Two Key/Two Lock/Two Keeper and Lock Out Tag Out Engineering Control systems
  • Must be capable of emergency response handling to avoid injury to self, others, and animals
  • Ability to remain calm and professional in the event of an unpredictable situation and follow through until situation is over



AA, AS,BA, or BS degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree preferred. One year of exotic paid animal experience is also preferred.

  • Experience with animal training and public presentations a plus.
  • Will substitute training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skill, and abilities.

Generally, one year of full-time exotic animal experience will translate to one year of college.

  • Valid California driver license or the ability to obtain one.
  • Must be insurable on The Living Desert’s automobile policy.
  • Must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 including booster if eligible.

Equipment Used: PC computer, general office equipment, telephone, radio, electric and gas cart, vehicles including medium to heavy equipment such as skid steer loader, tractor, pepper spray (Counter Assault Bear Deterrent), rake, shovel, wheelbarrow, catch pole, capture net, baffle board, snake hook, weight scale, garden hose, small handheld and power tools such as hammer, screwdriver, drill, wire cutters etc.

Physical Position Description: ESSENTIAL PHYSICAL TASKS: Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting up to 50lbs.TYPICAL WORKING CONDITIONS: Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals, and dust/airborne materials. Work with potentially dangerous animals (i.e. large ungulates, carnivores, venomous animals).HOLIDAY WORK: Holiday and weekend work required.TRAVEL: Occasional conference and workshop attendance available if funding available. Some or all expenses paid.

To apply for current open positions: Please visit the Living Desert website to fill out an online application at for the position(s) of interest. Qualified applicants must submit a cover letter, resume, and three (3) references. The cover letter should include how you will be key in moving the Animal Care Department and The Living Desert mission forward. Positions will remain open until filled.

Salary Description


Tagged as: ANIMAL CARE

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