General Summary: The Elephant Operations Specialist is responsible for providing operational and administrative support to the Elephant Team. This position is also responsible for caring for the animals, maintaining exhibits and holding areas, monitoring animal behaviors outside of normal operating hours, ensuring animal welfare, and assisting in the facilitation of operations to accommodate special projects.
Maintaining this position will be contingent upon the Elephant Operations Specialist earning a satisfactory safety rating and performing successfully on written and practical skill assessments based on key duties and responsibilities on a semi-annual basis as outlined in the Elephant Staff Training and Skill Level Program document. This position and all requirements are specific to the staff engaged in the regular and direct care of elephants in the elephant area as is required under the AZA “Maximizing Occupational Safety of Elephant Care Professionals at AZA-Accredited and AZA Certified Facilities” policy.
- Responsible for data collection and data entry in compliance with AZA standards and internal medical policies;
- Generate documentation and required reports in order to maintain compliance with AZA accreditation standards for managing elephants
- Prepare diets for animals, clean and fill water containers, and place food in exhibits at specified times;
- Clean facilities, exhibits, and associated animal areas according to the area protocols or as directed by management;
- Attend meetings as assigned and produce detailed written summaries of discussions;
- Observe changes in animals’ appetite, disposition, habits, and in physical appearance and/or excreta to detect indications of stress or illness;
- Inspect enclosures, fencing, pools, and furniture for cleanliness and/or structural defects, perform minor repairs, and submit work orders, as needed;
- Transfer animals in accordance with departmental policy and standards from one enclosure to another for husbandry purposes;
- Provide species appropriate and approved enrichment to animals;
- Assist in data collection for approved research projects and act as primary point of contact between elephant team members and external research project leader(s);
- Provide routine maintenance of facilities and minor repair of equipment, exhibits, and all associated animal areas;
- Report for early or late shifts as assigned in order to facilitate construction efforts in regards to elephant management or to monitor animal behavior outside of normal operating hours;
- Maintain familiarity with all animal recapture and restraint equipment;
- Capture and restrain animals for routine veterinary, emergency, training or husbandry, and management procedures;
- Assist with medical care procedures and administer medication and treatments as directed;
- Provide general maintenance of grounds in and around exhibits and associated facilities;
- Act as a member of the Animal Recapture Team as needed and directed;
- Earn and maintain all requirements of elephant Animal Keeper Specialist 1 status or greater, with all animals in the area
- Guide assigned elephant through a series of complex behaviors while keeping them under continuous stimulus control, correcting improper responses and reinforcing proper responses without pause
- Oversee and coordinate both assisted reproduction techniques and natural breeding interactions.
- Identify and correct inadequate or inappropriate behavioral responses efficiently and without assistance in non-routine circumstances and new situations.
- Compensate for unknown variables by relying on past experience in order to accomplish the current goal safely and with a minimum of stress for both elephants and keepers.
- Exhibit sound judgment and flexibility in order to tailor management techniques and approaches in each situation to minimize negative results for the elephants and handlers. This includes properly identifying when to proceed further in any given situation and properly assessing when to conclude interactions in order to maximize both immediate and future success in the elephant handling and training process.
- Demonstrate accurate and objective evaluations of the current behavioral state and likely tendencies of the other elephant(s) in relation to the one they are directly handling and the capabilities and comfort levels of the other handlers involved in the situation.
- Communicate objective, pertinent health information to veterinary staff for both consistent and accurate diagnosis of conditions and also consistent follow up and treatment.
- Ability to apply elephant training and handling techniques and prior experience to handling new animals that the Trainer is naïve to as assigned, but without direct oversight from the Elephant Management Team.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills to describe and convey subtle detail utilizing industry standard definitions and descriptions.
- Perform other duties as assigned; and,
- Adhere to all policies and procedures of the Zoo.
Communication (Internal and External):
- Maintain internal reports on all animal conditions in daily reports, diary, records, etc.;
- Provide regular updates to the Area Manager and general curator;
- Attend Zoo general staff meetings and departmental meetings;
- Interpret the Zoo to guests, donors, and zoo associates;
- Attend all staff training sessions as directed; and,
- Promote the mission of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
Management of Resources (financial, human resources, facilities):
- Unload and store commissary items; and,
- Maintain equipment and tools in a good state of repair