Animal Care Specialist (#RA0705)
$19.21-$23.34 Hourly / $3,329.73-$4,045.60 Monthly / $39,956.80-$48,547.20 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 experience caring for zoo animals and/or exotic species in a zoo or similar setting.


    Substitution:  Additional qualifying paid 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.



    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.


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