Job Overview


About the Agency

This is a Competitive Service position.  The Associate Director for Animal Care is being advertised through two announcements: 1) this Federal Merit Promotion announcement, #EX-14-15, SL-0486-00; and 2) a companion Federal Delegated Examining Unit announcement, #EX-14-16, SL-0486-00. 

The National Zoological Park (NZP) is an organization within the Smithsonian Institution’s complex of museums and research organizations.  The Associate Director for Animal Care is a member of the Director's Senior Management Team and advises and assists the Director in planning, developing, directing and managing the Zoo's animal management and care programs and activities.  As a Senior Management Team member recommends actions to better organize, manage and lead NZP programs; and develops and monitors programs and plans to carry out management decisions.


Assists and advises the Director in formulating policies, program goals and objectives. Collaborates with heads of departments and offices to translate overall plans into specific programs and projects, and monitors progress and accomplishments.  Works with staff to implement the Zoo’s long-range animal collection plan that integrates the husbandry and scientific expertise of the National Zoo.  

Ensures the safety, security, and welfare of animal care staff and the collection. Maintains the highest safety standards and stays abreast of changes in best practices of animal management and introduces new protocols where appropriate. Reviews existing protocols and best practices and ensures that staff is properly trained and can perform duties in the safest and most effective manner for the care of the animals, and the staff, volunteers and visitors.

Follows the work of the Zoo’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee(s) as it relates to the Rock Creek collection.  Regularly inspects animal care facilities to help preclude findings by the USDA, IACUC and/or AZA. Ensures that the Rock Creek facility is AZA accreditation ready at all times. Seeks the necessary support to correct areas cited or where there is an anticipation of a citing.  Ensures that humane care and welfare of wildlife prevails in all aspects of the Zoo’s research operations. Maintains sound biological and scientific practices of population management and studies, both in the wild and in captivity. Ensures compliance with Zoo Directives, Smithsonian Directives, AZA Accreditation Standards and all applicable local, federal and other laws and regulations.

Creates a team-oriented animal care program where veterinarians, curators, scientists and other specialists in the zoological and health care communities work to ensure highest quality animal care for the collection.  Ensures that the animal care staff effectively employ positive reinforcement and enrichment in training protocols. 

Works with Zoo’s animal management staff to improve the public exhibit and education programs. Ensures that the public experience is optimized by being able to view animals consistently on exhibit while not negatively impacting animal welfare.  Works closely with the Friends of the National Zoo volunteer management and the Associate Director for Public Engagement on appropriate messaging for both interpreters and keeper demos and other public interactions.

Coordinates the relationship between the Front Royal and Rock Creek collections.  Works with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) on a consolidated collection plan and works to leverage the Front Royal collection where possible.  Provides support to SCBI’s efforts in AZA sustainability efforts through C2S2. 

Supervises the Head Veterinarian and clinical veterinary services, the senior curators and all animal care staff, Nutritional Services, and Pathology Services. Coordinates closely with the SCBI Director on scientific activities that support or use the Zoo’s living collection.   

Sets budget priorities for the Zoo’s animal management requirements and related programs to carry out the goals and objectives.  Works with the Director, animal management staff and NZP advisory boards to develop and promote programs and to obtain funding from Federal appropriations, Smithsonian grant programs, endowments, other agency funding programs, gifts, foundation grants and contracts. Works with the Clinical Nutritionist to develop a cost effective plan to produce quality hay, browse, and other animal feeds that meet the requirements of the collections.

Represents the Smithsonian and the National Zoological Park to promote its animal management, education and conservation programs and their value to society. Makes presentations to Congressional constituents, national and international conservation organizations, other U.S. and international government agencies, U.S. and foreign zoos, and potential donors.

Encourages a productive and creative environment for staff to pursue animal management objectives.  Sets clear expectations for outcomes in line with the goals and objectives of the Zoo and the Smithsonian.  Develops, modifies and implements standards, criteria, and procedures to assure a high quality of staff performance.  Provides guidance and direction to subordinate supervisors and employees, and resolves conflicts arising from program operations.  Ensures performance plans reflect on-going implementation of recommendations for animal care set forth in AZA accreditation reviews and standards developed by the zoological profession for preventive care and husbandry.

Reviews and evaluates proposals to create new projects and programs, and monitors progress in achieving project and program goals. 

Supports living collection sustainability efforts through personal and staff involvement with AZA, WAZA, IUCN, CBSG and other conservation organizations.