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Lead Keeper, Primates

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Job Details
Job Order Number
Company Name
Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo
Physical Address
Brookfield, IL 60513
Job Description

Explore Tropic World and meet intelligent primates from three continents. Your first stop is South America where you will meet black-handed spider monkeys, callimico, sloths, anteaters and more. Next, venture in the serene comfort of Asia and get to know orangutans and white-cheeked gibbons. You might also catch a glimpse of the Asian small-clawed otters scurrying about trying not to be noticed. Finally, journey through the tropical forest of Africa and encounter colobus monkey, swamp monkeys, and guenons. Take a few more steps and you’ll meet our troop of Western lowland gorillas.

Preferred animal experience: Diverse experience caring for and exhibiting a wide variety of primates in a zoo setting preferred. Understanding of zoo-based conservation and breeding programs also desirable. This opening is for Lead Keeper of South American primates and serves as relief supervisor for the Asia and Africa section as well. This position reports to the Senior Curator of Mammals.

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by providing experienced care for animals and performing related work of maintaining buildings, grounds, and interpretives in assigned area, under the direction of area managers or supervisors. Perform a wide variety of departmental supervisory activities, including supervising and instructing Keepers in assigned area and to support innovations in Conservation Leadership and Animal Welfare. Relieve other Lead Keepers as directed. Perform all routine duties independently and new duties with minimal direction.

Primary job duties and responsibilities:

• Responsible for current animal and equipment inventory. Maintain detailed and current knowledge of natural history, husbandry, and captive management of species and individuals in assigned areas. Observe assigned animals closely and objectively. Apply knowledge and prior experiences to affect or implement change where appropriate. Maintain and utilize animal records. Clean animal enclosures, pools, and service areas as required.

• Maintain proficiency in area routines and specialized procedures. Observe condition of assigned area(s), animal enclosures, and equipment. Monitor and clean public space(s), plants, and interpretives as required. Report maintenance needs as appropriate, and perform minor maintenance tasks.

• Perform in a proactive leadership role and communicate regularly with area supervisors/managers regarding animal management, facility maintenance, and staff supervision and development. Assist in departmental hiring, scheduling, and work assignments, and the development of departmental goals and plans. Establish work priorities for the department. Routinely monitor and review the work performance of keeper staff in assigned area, and ensure completion of tasks in a timely and effective fashion. Prepare and conduct performance appraisals as assigned. Train and direct work of interns, seasonal employees, and full-time keep staff as assigned. Verify employee work schedules. Provide written reports as assigned. Handle personnel situations in a timely, objective, and consistent manner and in accordance with Society policies and the union contract.

• Monitor guests to ensure animal and human safety and protection of Society property. Communicate with and assist guests. Take initiative to facilitate guests’ appreciation of animals and enjoyment of their visit. Demonstrate knowledge of and implement Society-wide and area emergency procedures as directed. Ensure compliance with all Society policies and procedures. Other related duties as assigned.

This is a full-time position with rotating shifts, including weekends, holidays, and evenings.


This position description summarizes the primary duties and functions of this position, but should not be considered a complete listing of every duty the incumbent may ever be called upon to perform.

• Responsibility for Society Property: Incumbent is responsible for the care and proper use of equipment and property.

• Responsibility for Safety of Others: Incumbent is responsible for the safety of guests, animals, employees, interns, volunteers, etc., as instructed. Must be alert to hazards and potential hazards and take action to remedy or report these as appropriate.

• Contacts: Primary contacts include staff, professional associates, volunteers, docents, interns, and guests.

• Other Qualifications and Characteristics: Incumbent must possess a genuine interest in animals and their welfare. Must work cooperatively and follow appropriate communication channels. Must possess ability to adjust quickly to changes. Must understand, or quickly acquire understanding of how department interfaces with Society-wide operations. Incumbent is expected to continue to develop supervisory skills and grow professionally within the zookeeper profession. Must set a professional example for keeper staff.

Keepers are frequently subjected to potential hazards that include direct contact with or close proximity to live animals. Zookeeper positions are physically demanding, and employees may be subjected to a variety of physical demands and environmental factors and exposures. Incumbents may be required to undergo physical examinations, including vaccinations, inoculations, blood tests, or other such testing or procedures as may be required by law or deemed reasonable necessary. Incumbent must possess or acquire knowledge of the Chicago Zoological Society, its mission and vision, policies and procedures, and incorporate into daily job responsibilities.

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