VP of Animal Care

VP of Animal Care

Mississippi Aquarium //
Gulfport, MS //
Posted on: August 13, 2021 //

The Vice President of Animal Care, reporting to the Sr. VP or the CEO/COO, is responsible for the coordination and management of the living specimens and the maintenance of their life support systems. This position supervises and manages Animal Care staff.

Functions & Responsibilities

Essential Functions


• Assists leadership team in establishing the Aquarium’s operational procedures in accordance with accrediting organizations standards.
• Responsible for hiring, training, and supervising of Animal Care staff. Direct reports are Curator, Marine Mammals, Curator, Animals, and Curator, Fish & Ectotherms.
• Develop the curatorial team and foster an atmosphere of professional development throughout the animal care team.
• Assist in the preparation and execution of the approved institutional collection plan that coincides with Aquarium’s strategic plan.
• Support and create academic and entrepreneurial partnerships with local, state, and national stakeholders.
• Support in situ and ex situ conservation research with VP Research and VP Veterinary Services.
• Oversee the daily husbandry of the collection and collaborate with the aquarium vet team and facilities team to maintain optimum health of the collection.
• Obtains all necessary permits for legal collection, holding, exhibiting and transport of a variety of species.
• Ensure USDA, AZA, AMMPA, and American Humane standards are met or exceeded
• Understand animal record keeping system and ensure staff complies with daily reporting
• Serve as a member of the Animal Welfare Committee
• Supervise and create revenue generating animal encounters/interactions.
• Support and expand the use of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement throughout the collection to enhance animal welfare.
• Foster a professional relationship based on trust and respect with all divisions to ensure the mission of MSAQ and provide the best atmosphere and welfare for our guests, animals, and team members.
• Plan and design exhibits as part of the exhibit team and coordinates appropriate animal acquisition to fulfil the desired plan of the exhibits.
• Oversee the purchases of equipment, food, medicines, and other supplies necessary for the operation of the department and maintenance of the living collection.
• Prepares transport plans for the collection and transport of animals from various locations for display in the Aquarium.
• Understands water quality analysis and can make necessary changes to exhibits depending on results.
• Ability to work a flexible schedule and travel.
• Any other tasks assigned.

This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

Skills & Experience

Knowledge & Skills

• Advanced knowledge of the operation and maintenance of aquarium & life support systems.
• Advanced experience in animal husbandry including handling and transport procedures. Multi-taxa collection includes crocodilians, fish, elasmobranchs, birds, marine mammals, reptiles, amphibians, etc.
• Understanding of veterinary standards, policies, and procedures.
• General knowledge of laboratory equipment and testing/operating procedures.
• Strong command of the English language, both written and verbal.
• Experience in preparing public educational programs.
• Able to lift a minimum of sixty (60) pounds.
• Able to negotiate various field conditions.
• Able to work standing up for extended periods of time.
• Valid driver’s license required.
• Valid SCUBA certification and collection experience.
• Ability to work weekends, holidays, days closed due to inclement weather, and to travel for extended periods of time to perform collecting and other duties.
• Knowledge necessary of permit requirements for legal collection, holding, exhibiting and transport of a variety of species.

Education & Experience

• Four (4) year degree in biology or related field, Masters or PhD preferred.
• Minimum ten (10) years’ experience in a public aquarium husbandry/operations position.

Job Requirements

Physical Requirements

The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls; reach with hands and arms; climb stairs; balance; stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl; talk or hear; taste or smell. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 60 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by the job include close vision, distance vision, color and peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is exposed to weather conditions prevalent at the time. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Salary & Benefits