Relief Keeper

Baltimore, MD Full-time
Maryland Zoo is an EEO employer - M/F/Vets/Disabled

General Summary:  The Relief Keeper is responsible for providing care and maintenance to collection animals and their associated exhibits and holding areas. Relief Keepers may be assigned to work in any of the animal areas to meet business needs.  Therefore, this person must be knowledgeable and comfortable working with a variety of species on a regular basis. Relief Keepers are expected to support Animal Keeper 1 staff and Management in the observation of collection animals, by paying special attention to health, safety, dietary consumption, and behavioral abnormalities. This position will directly report to the Area Manager assigned to the Farm Yard, and may take direction from other Animal Department staff as scheduled.

Essential Functions:

Primary Function:

  • Staff contact yard areas and animal guest interactive areas as scheduled; 

  • Assist Animal Keeper 1 staff in animal areas as scheduled;

  • Report changes in animals’ appetite, disposition, habits, and in physical appearance and/or excreta to Animal Keeper 1 staff;

  • Inspect enclosures, fencing, pools, and furniture for cleanliness and/or structural defects and to perform minor repairs as needed;

  • Prepare diets for animals, clean and fill water containers, and place food in exhibits at specified times per daily protocol;

  • Clean facilities, exhibits, and associated animal areas according to the area protocols or as directed;

  • Provide species appropriate and approved enrichment and training to animals according to area protocols;

  • Assist in data collection for approved research projects;

  • Provide routine maintenance of facilities and minor repair of equipment, exhibits, and all associated animal areas;

  • Maintain familiarity with all animal recapture and restraint equipment;

  • Assist with routine veterinary, emergency, training or husbandry, and management procedures;

  • Assist with medical care procedures and administer medication 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;

  • Drive to specified locations as needed;

  • Interact in a consistently pleasant and helpful manner to fellow employees, guests, vendors, and other visitors of the Zoo and demonstrate the highest standards of internal and external customer service;

  • Perform other duties as assigned; and,

  • Adhere to all policies and procedures of the Zoo.

Communication (Internal and External):

  • Maintain reports on all animal conditions in daily reports, diary, records, etc. per departmental protocol;

  • Provide regular updates to the Animal Keeper 1 staff on the condition and status of the animal collection;

  • 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.

Minimum Qualifications:


  • Associates degree in zoology, biology, or related field preferred.  Or, two years of continuing education towards a bachelor’s degree in zoology, biology, or related field preferred.


  • One year of paid or unpaid animal experience, excluding pets;

  • Must possess a valid driver’s license; and,

  • Must be familiar with computer operations including Microsoft Office programs and data entry. 

Traits Desirable:

  • Ability to work with a wide variety of individuals from ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds;

  • Ability to operate both independently and as part of a team in a productive and efficient manner with proper time management skills;

  • Extremely well organized;

  • Self-directed, collaborative, and detail oriented; and,

  • Possess a positive attitude and a general philosophy/outlook in line with the Zoo’s mission.


  • Must be able to operate a variety of machines and equipment including computer, telephone, radio, and vehicles, hand tools, animal restraint and capture devices, incubators, gardening/carpentry tools and machinery, computer, scales, etc.

Working Conditions:

  • Must be able to exert up to 50 pounds of force occasionally, 25 pounds frequently and/or a negligible amount of force frequently or constantly to lift, carry, push, pull or otherwise move objects.  Physical demands are in excess of those for sedentary work; must be able to remain on feet for periods of time, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, push, pull, climb, balance;

  • Must be able to lift 75 pounds with assistance and 50 pounds unassisted as needed;

  • Must be able to travel large areas of the Zoo on foot as needed;

  • Ability to work a flexible schedule to include weekends, holidays, and special events;

  • Must be able to stand and remain active for an eight hour shift; 

  • Must be able to work in an outdoor weather environment in all seasons and weather, including heat/humidity, cold temperatures, and/or wet conditions;

  • Must be able to climb a ladder carrying up to 15 pounds; 

  • Exposure to zoonotic diseases and risk of animal attack; 

  • Exposure to potential environmental hazards such as poison oak/ivy, uneven terrain, and insect bites/stings; and,

  • TB test, physical required; 


The statements above are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by employees assigned to this classification.  They are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and/or skills required of all personnel so classified.  Therefore, management reserves the right to revise the job or to require that other or different tasks be performed when circumstances change.

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