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Nutrition/Farm/Quarantine Keeper

Come join us at the Great Plains Zoo!   The Zoo is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster a greater understanding of our national world through Education, Conservation, Recreation and Discovery and is an accredited member of the AZA.

The Nutrition/Farm/Quarantine Keeper will prepare diets for zoo animals, organize and clean kitchens, inventory, and stock food prep areas, organize and clean grain and feed rooms, as well as have the same responsibilities as other fulltime zookeepers with respect to the care and husbandry of quarantined animals. In this capacity, the quarantine keeper will work with a variety of species across all taxonomic classes on a regular basis. Zookeepers are responsible for the specialized work involving all aspects of general care and husbandry of zoo animals including maintaining/cleaning adjacent areas.

Essential Functions


Nutrition Responsibilities

  • Prepare diets daily for Zoo's animal collection (follow written and oral instructions concerning type and quantity of foods to be prepared and size of portions; obtaining necessary ingredients from the storage areas/freezers, and washing, cleaning, peeling, cutting, chopping, grinding, dicing, and/or slicing foods as required; accurately measure and weigh portions and package foods in accordance with instructions).
  • Prepare food enrichment (eg frozen icicles) as scheduled and instructed.  Work with keepers on preparing other kinds of enrichment as needed.
  • Maintain cleanliness, organization, and sanitation of dishes, work areas, all surfaces and equipment.
  • Organize and inventory grain and feed rooms, hay storage areas, coolers, and freezers.
  • Pack and deliver diets and supplies (eg hay and grain) throughout the Zoo as per instructions
  • Assist in receiving deliveries (e.g. mean, fish, grain, hay, wood shavings, and other supplies) and checking against packing slips.
  • Inventory and assist in ordering commissary supplies.
  • Interact with and educate the public, VIPS, and/or media about animal nutrition and department animals/operations through tours, keeper chats and other special events as assigned.  Considerable interpersonal skills are required and a high degree of understanding of guest service is necessary.


Quarantine Responsibilities

  • Provide all aspects of daily care for the animals in assigned exhibits and holding areas, including, but not limited to:
    • Innovative animal husbandry that is in compliance with AZA and USDA standards.
    • Prepartion and feeding of approved diets.
    • Monitoring physical and behavior aspects of the animals under assigned care.
    • Implementation of the behavioral program of the animals under assigned care which includes the animal training  (operant conditioning) and enrichment programs.
    • Designing and maintaining proper animal enclosures/props/exhibits.
    • Utilizing preventive husbandry techniques and providing proactive health care as required.
    • Provide proper care for neonates and young (may require care outside of normal working hours)
    • Work with the vet and animal care teams to provide specialized care to quarantined animals as needed.
  • Maintain exhibits and holding areas in a clean, aesthetically pleasing and presentalbe condition at all times.  Includes performing general maintenance and repair of exhibits; painting, repairing fences and shelters, abating erosion, removing weeds, and snow removal.  Mantains the cleanliness of other areas including hallways, etc.
  • Observe the animals for any signs of illness, lethargy, injury, or dietary problems and report any problems to the appropriate staff.  
  • Assist the team in routine animal examinations and medicate animals with any prescribed treatments.
  • Establish and maintain an effective working relationship with fellow employees as well as intract and communicate well with the general public.
  • Maintain daily reports, medical records, enrichment logs, and other records as needed in the assigned area.
  • Capture, handle and move animals using accepted GPZ practices to facilitate internal movement, external shipping, medical procedures, or normal routines.  Perform basic restraint, crating, uncrating and transport of animals as required and must have the ability to operate various sizes of animal squeeze cages.
  • Participate in the animal behavior management program as directed.
  • Other duties as assigned.



  • Must be able to follow written and oral instructions.
  • Must be flexible, self-motivated, enthusiastic and a team player.
  • Must demonstrate punctual attendance, reliability and good time management skills.
  • Must be capable of dealing with emergencies calmly and efficiently.
  • 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).


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.


Required Education and Experience

Requires a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree; or an equivalent level of work experience and education as determined by the hiring authority.


Preferred Education and Experience

  • Previous animal training, Nutrition/Commissary and/or Zookeeper experience preferred.
  • Experience 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.

The 45-acre Great Plains Zoo is located in Sioux Falls, SD a vibrant and growing community!

  • A metro population of over 278,000.
  • Smart Asset ranks Sioux Falls first as the Best City For Young Professionals in 2017, 2018 and 2019.  
  • ZipRecruiter identified Sioux Falls as the third hottest job market in 2020.
  • WalletHub ranked Sioux Falls as No. 15 on the 2019 list of Happiest Cities in America.
  • Livability ranked Sioux Falls No. 7 among the 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live

Full-time positions include competitive pay and a generous benefits package that includes health, dental, vision, life and short and long term disability insurances, a 401(k) plan with matching contributions, eight paid holidays and a PTO allowance.   

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.