Animal Care Specialist (#RA0705)
$22.03-$26.77 Hourly / $3,817.91-$4,640.69 Monthly / $45,814.97-$55,688.38 Yearly


Under general supervision, monitors and cares for a living animal collection in a zoo setting and does routine maintenance and enhancement of animal exhibits and support facilities; and does related work in accordance with Rule 3, Section 3 of the Civil Service Rules.


An incumbent in this class performs responsible work of a specialized nature in the monitoring, and caring for living collections in a zoo setting, and ensures a safe, enriching and rewarding experience for zoo visitors. This class differs from the class of Senior Animal Care Specialist in that the latter performs as lead worker.


  • Monitors the health and well-being of living animal collections by noting physical or behavioral changes, and takes appropriate action; observes for signs of illness or injury, including diet consumption and other variables used to assess animal condition; records and reports problems and consults with supervisory staff and veterinarian as necessary; captures, moves or isolates animals as circumstances require, ensuring safety of the animals, staff and the public.
  • Prepares and distributes animal diets; prepares meals according to prescribed needs of animals; adds dietary supplements; maintains safe and sanitary food preparation and storage areas; monitors food and supplies inventory; prepares lists and orders food and supplemental items; rotates stock to ensure fresh food supply.
  • Cleans, disinfects and maintains animal exhibits and veterinary facilities; removes waste; cleans and disinfects water bowls and water areas; rakes and disposes of leaves and litter; makes minor repairs to maintain integrity of enclosures; monitors for pests and predators; checks operating systems and makes seasonal adjustments as conditions require.
  • Provides animal enrichment to simulate natural conditions; researches natural behavior and habitats; plans and implements training projects; documents effectiveness of enrichment provided; identifies and installs appropriate exhibit furnishings, such as perching, nest sites, foraging areas, resting platforms, landscape materials.
  • Prepares, distributes, and documents medications, and provides health care under veterinary direction; may calculate and measure restraint drugs; captures or restrains animals for veterinary care procedures and animal management needs; monitors animals during post-operative recovery period.
  • Maintains exhibits, grounds, service areas, and support facilities to provide a safe, attractive and healthy environment for animals, and the public; maintains operations of aquatic systems; monitors equipment to maintain required safety standards for zoo species and the public; assists in planning or design to update or create new exhibits.
  • Supervises and inspects volunteer staff work; trains volunteer staff.
  • Interacts with zoo visitors and general public; explains and enforces zoo regulations and policies; provides information on animal natural history, care and conservation; answers routine questions by zoo visitors; makes presentations to community groups; communicates with professional peers on questions affecting species management and care.
  • Provides safe transport of zoo specimens for acquisition, disposition and/or veterinary medical needs and provides species-appropriate temporary housing as required.
  • Prepares records and reports regarding zoo activities, as required.


Education:  Graduation from a four year accredited college or university with major coursework in biology, zoology, wildlife management, wildlife ecology, animal behavior, or a closely related field.

Experience:  One year paid or unpaid experience caring for zoo animals and/or exotic species in a zoo or similar setting.


Substitution:  Additional qualifying experience caring for zoo animals and/or exotic species in a zoo or similar setting may be substituted for education on a year for year basis.

Note: Unpaid hours such as those obtained though volunteerism or internships will be accepted only if: 1) the experience is documented on letterhead from the organization where it was obtained; 2) the documentation includes dates, number of hours worked and duties performed (2,080 hours is equivalent to one year full-time experience); and 3) the experience was obtained within the last 10 years.


Special requirements:  1) Upon job offer, incumbents must successfully pass a tuberculosis test and maintain a negative tuberculosis test for duration of employment; 2) receive inoculation for rabies within six months of employment.


Certifications:  1) Obtain First Aid/CPR certificate within six month of employment; and 2) obtain firearm safety training certificate within six months of employment.


License:  Possession of a valid California driver’s license.


Basic principles of biology and zoology, including animal identification and natural history, taxonomy, physiology, behavior, nutrition; animal enrichment practices; principles of ecology and population management; basic husbandry principles, including safe food handling and storage and pest control; knowledge of research methods;  zoo animal preventative medicine principles and practices; general veterinary terminology and equipment; symptoms of animal illness; basic first aid;  basic sanitation, tools and practices;  kinds and uses of basic cleaning materials and equipment; exhibit and grounds maintenance and repairs;  zoo practices and procedures; safety procedures, including accident prevention and response;  hazards of working with wild animals, including restraint practices; basic computer and modern office automation technology, including pertinent software.


Identify changes in animal behavior or physical condition; follow oral and written directions;  interpret and apply zoo regulations and procedures;  physically handle and/or restrain wild animals, including safe use of darting equipment or firearm;  work safely and effectively with wild, delicate and potentially dangerous  animals;  perform basic mathematical calculations and make accurate measurements; operate a variety of related tools and machinery for exhibits and/or maintenance; operate variety of motorized vehicles; operate computers and related software; communicate effectively, both orally and in writing;  establish and maintain effective working relationships with staff, volunteers and the public.


Mobility – Operation of a data entry device, constant walking and standing for long periods, pushing/pulling, bending, squatting, crawling, driving; Lifting – Frequently 5-50 pounds; Vision – Good overall vision, color perception, depth perception; reading and close-up work; normal hand and eye coordination; good field of vision/peripheral; Dexterity – Normal dexterity and repetitive motion; Hearing/Talking – Frequent hearing and talking on the telephone/radio and in person; Special Requirements – Working weekends and holidays; may require overtime evening work; Emotional/Psychological – Frequent public contact and decision making; frequent concentration required; occasional exposure to dangerous situations, including trauma, grief and death; working alone; Environmental – Frequent exposure to noise, cold/heat, hazardous materials, dirt, dust, fumes, and varied weather conditions.

San Joaquin County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and, upon request, will consider reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions.

CLASS: RA0705; EST: 3/8/2006; REV: 2/8/2023;