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Animal Care Area Supervisor

Animal Care Area Supervisor Job Description

FLSA Classification: Exempt

Job Summary

The Area Supervisor oversees and manages animal care personnel, including staff, interns or volunteers involved in the husbandry care of the animals in their area of supervision. The Area Supervisor will ensure the animals are provided high quality animal care for their overall well-being. Modern zoological principles will guide the daily care, husbandry, training and enrichment, ensuring that we are able to meet the animals’ physical, mental and emotional needs. The supervisor ensures compliance with USDA, AZA, state, and federal regulations. They will oversee and coordinate all the daily animal care management in their area of supervision.

Reports To
Animal Care Director

Essential Functions
• Performs all job assignments with a positive attitude that reflects Sioux Falls Zoo & Aquarium’s mission.
• Works closely with Animal Care Leadership team to ensure high standards of animal care management for our animals’ overall well-being
• Maintains strong communication and institutional animal record keeping. Trains and ensures staff are properly documenting in ZIMS.
• Employs and trains staff on modern zoological practices for animal care including complex enrichment, behavioral training, and exhibit propping/maintenance to meet their species-specific needs.
• Leadership role in selection, training, supervision, evaluation, discipline, and assignment of staff.
• Works alongside staff in areas of oversight including cleaning, feeding, training, and conducting animal programs.
• Assists animal management with development and implementation of the Institutional Species Plan.
• Purchase food, supplies, and tools.
• Assists Animal Care Director with animal acquisitions and dispositions, including coordinating and accompanying shipments.
• Actively participate in AZA animal programs and related organizations.
• Assumes on a rotational assignment the responsibilities and authorities of running the department in the absence of the Animal Care Director (Acting as MOD).
• Participate in planning processes, including involvement with other departments.
• Monitor exhibits, animals, work areas and staff to ensure proper standards are maintained.
• Supervise humane capture and restraint of animals, as related to moves or veterinary practices.
• Upholds a strong safety culture and ensures staff are following safety guidelines and protocols.
• Actively participate in the Firearms Response Team (shooter or spotter) or Immobilization Team, including proficient use of weapons at the Sioux Falls Zoo & Aquarium as stated by the training requirements.
• Ensure compliance with USDA, AZA, state and federal regulations; conduct mock inspections.
• Develop, conduct, or coordinate keeper projects.
• Compiles documents and completes applications as directed.
• Commitment to the SFZA mission.
• Maintains strict confidentiality.
• Coordinate interdepartmental activities as related to nutrition, training or enrichment dependent on assigned area of responsibility.

• Ability to maintain professionalism, maturity, sound judgment and confidentiality.
• Strong attention to detail and organizational skills.
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills and ability to follow the same.
• Must have initiative, drive and ability to complete work within specified deadlines.
• Ability to take control and think clearly in unforeseen and emergency situations.
• Demonstrated problem solving skills.
• Ability to work effectively with a diverse group of people and build consensus among the team.
• Must be able to shoot rifles, shotguns and capture dart guns as required and/or directed to assist in the animal escape and recovery plan.
• Must be proficient in the use of computers including MS Office Suite (Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint).

Supervisory Responsibilities
• Supervises, organizes, and oversees the schedules and work of Senior Zookeepers and Zookeepers in assigned areas.
• Conducts performance evaluations that are fair, accurate, timely and constructive.

Work Environment
Must be able to tolerate and be exposed to strong odors, toxic or caustic chemicals, dust, hay, animal fur/hair/dander, and wet or humid conditions (non-weather) and all variable outdoor weather conditions.

Physical Demands
Must be able to climb ladders/stairs, lift crates/animals and / or equipment weighing 70 lbs., operate mowers, handle fires hoses, operate weed eaters, hay elevators, motorized carts, tractors, dump truck, pickup truck, load and operate wheel barrows loaded up to 150 lbs., be agile and flexible to maneuver in and around the animals within exhibits, corrals and holding areas.

Occasional local travel may be necessary to acquire supplies, etc. Infrequent travel may be necessary for animal transports.

Required Education and Experience
• Requires a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree.
• Must have at least 5 years of experience in animal care.

Preferred Education and Experience
• Have demonstrated initiative in leading teams to take on new tasks and responsibilities within the department and aiding other departments.
• Possess the characteristics of an Animal Care professional demonstrating competence, professionalism,
teamwork, mutual respect, and commitment to the mission of the Zoo & Aquarium.
• Experience working in an AZA-accredited facility preferred.

Additional Qualifications
• Maintain a current tetanus vaccination (5 years) and be willing to be TB tested annually.
• Must be certified or able to become certified in CPR/AED within 1 year of employment.
• Must be able to work weekends, holidays and evenings as required.
• Must have a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a pre-employment background check.

Other Duties
This job description is not designed nor should it be interpreted to cover or contain a comprehensive list of all qualifications, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee. Qualifications, duties and/or responsibilities may change and/or new ones may be assigned at any time with or without notice.

Each Area Supervisor will have one additional area of responsibility: Nutrition, Enrichment, or Training
Coordinate interdepartmental activities as related to enrichment – essential functions:

  • Direct oversight and coordination of enrichment program including researching, recommending, tracking, implementing, and evaluating enrichment.
  • Reviews, orders, organizes, and monitors supplies and materials needed for enrichment. Assists keepers as needed in developing/creating enrichment.
  • Trains new and existing staff on enrichment expectations.
  • Assists keepers in developing natural history sheets for a variety of species.
  • Assists keepers in developing enrichment goals and ensures goals are being met.

On September 27, 2022 the Governing Boards of the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History and the Butterfly House & Aquarium voted to merge the two organizations. The Sioux Falls Zoo & Aquarium will be created Jan. 1, 2023. The organization will operate on dual campuses: Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History (805 S. Kiwanis Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57104) and Butterfly House & Aquarium (4320 S Oxbow Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57106) until such time as construction can be completed for one campus at 805 S. Kiwanis Ave., Sioux Falls.


Proof of U.S. Citizenship or immigration status will be required upon employment. Criminal convictions are not an absolute bar to employment, but will only be considered in relation to specific job requirements.

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.