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Come join us at the Great Plains Zoo!   The Zoo is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to create connections and protect our natural world. The Great Plains Zoo is an accredited member of the AZA.

Job Summary: Nutrition/Farm/Quarantine Keeper
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 and farm 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.

Reports To
Area Lead

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/coolers/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 (e.g., 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 delivers diets and supplies (e.g., hay and grain) throughout Zoo as per instructions. 
•    Will assist in receiving deliveries (e.g., meat, 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 will be required and a high degree of appreciation of guest service is necessary.

Quarantine and Farm Zookeeper 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.
•    Preparation and feeding of approved diets. 
•    Monitoring of physical and behavioral aspects of the animals under assigned care.
•    Implementation of the behavioral program of the animals under assigned care which include the animal training (operant conditioning) and enrichment programs.
•    Designing and maintaining proper animal enclosures/props/exhibits. 
•    Utilizing preventative 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 veterinary and animal care teams to provide specialized care to quarantined animals as needed.
•    Maintain exhibits and holding areas in a clean, aesthetically pleasing, and presentable condition at all times.  Includes performing general maintenance and repair of exhibits: painting, repairing fences and shelters, abating erosion, removing weeds, and snow removal.  Maintains the cleanliness of other areas such as breakrooms, hallways, etc.
•    Observe the animal collection for any signs of illness, lethargy, injury, or dietary problems and report any problems to the Veterinarian, Curator or Area Lead.
•    Assist the Veterinarian, Curator and/or Area Lead in routine animal examinations and medicate animals with any prescribed treatments.
•    Establish and maintain an effective working relationship with fellow employees as well as interact 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 Great Plains Zoo 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 (animal operant conditioning training and enrichment 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).

Supervisory Responsibilities
This position helps to oversee and train volunteers, Junior Zookeepers, Seasonal Zookeepers and Interns; however, this position does not have any direct reports.

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. 

No travel necessary.

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

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 or new ones may be assigned at any time with or without notice.  

Why join our team?

Are you an animal care professional looking for a new opportunity? Are you looking for a small size zoo with a collaborative atmosphere? Then the Great Plains Zoo (GPZ) may be the place for you. Conservation is a cornerstone to our mission. Alongside the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), we work to save animals from extinction every day. From rounding up for conservation when guests purchase tickets to participating in boots-on-the-ground field work, GPZ is focused on conservation efforts that move the dial toward species preservation - right at home and across the globe! At GPZ we look for employees who are passionate about conservation, who approach their daily work with a can-do attitude, who are resourceful, who communicate respectfully with everyone, and who are ready to work hard to support the zoo towards our mission of creating connection and protecting our natural world. Come and be a part of the team here at the Great Plains Zoo!

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.   

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

  • Sioux Falls is known for its family life, healthcare and its moderate, four-season climate. That’s why Sioux Falls is consistently ranked one of the best places to live in the nation year after year. Learn more about our community and why it's a great place to live and work!

Apply today using the form below!

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.