JOB POSTING: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

04/27/2022 2:24 PM | Chase LaDue (Administrator)

Job Title: Lead Keeper Elephant

FLSA Status: Non-exempt

Hours: Full-time


For more information, please visit: 

About the role: 

  • We are currently seeking a Lead Elephant Keeper for the African Grasslands Exhibit to assist in the management of our 2.6 African elephants. This position is responsible for leading the elephant department in the absence of the Elephant Manager. This includes daily reporting to senior staff, ensuring the elephant daily report is complete and accurate, training of new full-time and seasonal keeper staff, and reporting and/or facilitating the completion of necessary maintenance work.

    Elephant natural history is the driving force behind the management philosophy of this elephant program. Maintaining solid female herd dynamics and facilitating natural breeding are the focus of this program while providing the maximum amount of choice and control to our elephants. The elephants are managed in a protected contact system following AZA’s Standards for Elephant Management and Care. This position reports directly to the Elephant Manager.

    Duties and Responsibilities (include but not limited to):

  • ·       Manage the elephant department in the absence of the elephant manager.
  • ·       Assist in the training of new full-time and seasonal keeper staff.
  • ·       Completion of daily records and reporting to senior staff.
  • ·       General exhibit and holding area cleaning and maintenance.
  • ·       Planning, implementing, and evaluating daily behavior-based enrichment.
  • ·       Collection and identification of approved browse species.
  • ·       Daily husbandry training via protected contact utilizing positive reinforcement.
  • ·       Behavioral observations.
  • ·       Preparing diets and following feeding schedules.
  • ·       Assisting with veterinary care.
  • ·       Public training demonstrations and keeper chats.
  • ·       Regular team meetings.
  • ·       Use of various power tools and heavy equipment including but not limited to chainsaws, drills, power augers, and a Bobcat or similar equipment. Training will be provided.
  • Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • ·       High School diploma required. A Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology, Biology, or related field is preferred.
  • ·       Should possess a minimum of 2 years of full-time paid experience as an elephant keeper in a protected contact program at an AZA accredited institution.
  • ·       Successful candidates will have demonstrable experience with operant conditioning techniques utilizing positive reinforcement. 
  • ·       Working knowledge of the AZA Standards for Elephant Management and Care and Occupational Safety Guidelines for elephant care professionals is expected. Completion of AZA’s Principles of Elephant Management 1 is a plus.
  • ·       Experience with managing elephants as part of a breeding herd is preferred. 
  • ·       A thorough understanding of and strict adherence to the Occupational Safety Guidelines for elephant care professionals
  • ·       Must function well as a part of the elephant team to ensure a safe and productive work environment for all staff, guest, and animals.
  • ·       An understanding of environmental enrichment, its importance, and implementation.
  • ·       The ability to follow all protocols and standard operating procedures to assure the highest level of animal welfare.
  • ·       Excellent public speaking skills, communication skills, written and verbal, both with their peers and all other zoo personnel.
  • ·       An ability to work in a fast paced and dynamic environment with great attention to detail in all aspects of their work and record keeping
  • ·       Basic computer skills for data entry utilizing Microsoft programs
  • Candidates might be (depending on position) required to pass a pre-employment background check, drug test, negative skin tuberculosis test, and possess a valid driver’s license with a good history.

    Working Conditions and Physical Effort:

  • ·       Will sometimes work extended/odd hours including weekends, holidays and some night programs.
  • ·       Must be able to walk long distances across the zoo.
  • ·       Must be able to stand, sit, kneel, bend, twist, reach above head and climb.
  • ·       The position involves working within 3+ acres of outdoor exhibit space and a 25,000 square foot elephant barn. Exposure to biting flies and mosquitos is likely.
  • ·       Will lift, push, pull, and/or move up to 70 pounds and occasionally up to 100 pounds using safe and proper lifting methods.


The information presented indicates the general nature and level of work expected of employees in this classification. It is not designed to contain, nor is it to be interpreted as, a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and objectives required of employees assigned to this job. 

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer as defined by the EEOC.

The Elephant Managers Association (EMA) is an international, 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization.

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