Job Opportunity – Wildlife Specialist or Senior Wildlife Specialist

High Desert Museum Job Opportunity – Wildlife Specialist or Senior Wildlife Specialist

Title:   Wildlife Specialist or Senior Wildlife Specialist, depending upon experience
Division:   Wildlife
Classification:   Salaried, regular full-time exempt
Reports To:   Curator of Wildlife
Supervises:   Interns and Volunteers
Salary:   $49,000+, depending upon experience

High Desert Museum – Organization Description

Since opening in 1982, THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art, and natural resources to promote an understanding of the natural and cultural heritage of North America’s High Desert country. We do so through indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife in natural habitats, living history demonstrations and dynamic programs on a beautiful, 135-acre campus in the pine forest. The Museum is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was awarded the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Services. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, 195,000 visitors enjoyed the Museum.

The Museum is in Bend, Oregon, a fast-growing city nestled against the Cascade Range at the edge of the High Desert. We strive to be inclusive, culturally humble, relevant, curious, and mindful. As a team, we work together to wildly excite and responsibly teach, creating connection to and dialogue about the High Desert.

Job Summary- Wildlife Specialist or Senior Wildlife Specialist

We are seeking someone passionate about the High Desert region to join us in connecting audiences to the High Desert through dynamic wildlife programs. The Wildlife Specialist/Senior Wildlife Specialist works as part of a team to continuously improve the welfare and husbandry of the animals in our care, support live animal exhibits, and to deliver daily conservation-based programs. The Wildlife Specialist/Senior Wildlife Specialist is responsible for the care of reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and fish in our Desertarium. If hired on as a Senior Wildlife Specialist, the team member will coach fellow staff on training of animals in their care as appropriate.

Importantly, we recognize and honor that the qualifications required to excel in this position can come from a range of both professional and lived experiences. Below we describe what we believe to be important qualifications for a candidate to have while remaining open to the diversity of experiences that can lead to these skill sets. Position descriptions are often presented in a way that leaves qualified candidates feeling unwelcome, intimidated, uncomfortable and/or unqualified to apply. Recognizing that, we strongly encourage anyone who feels passionate about this work and believes they have what it takes to thrive in this role to apply.


  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a biological science or related discipline. Equivalent hands-on work experience/knowledge may be considered in lieu of a degree.
  • At least 3 years of experience working with animals in human care in a zoological setting (5 years for the senior position)
  • Enthusiasm for learning and staying current on all aspects of wildlife and human relationships with the landscape of the High Desert region.
  • Ability to interpret wildlife biology, natural history, and conservation for the public.
  • Knowledge of husbandry, care, and associated standards for managing reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, and fish.
  • Understanding of basic animal training theory, with emphasis on operant learning and positive reinforcement techniques.
  • Willingness to participate in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, United States Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife standards in a museum setting.
  • Familiarity with basic tools for groundskeeping, construction of exhibit elements and use of equipment associated with the safe handling of trained wildlife.
  • Understanding of, and commitment to, justice, equity, inclusion, accessibility and diversity practices.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Desire and ability to create and maintain excellent working relationships and provide outstanding customer service to coworkers, the public, and other professional contacts
  • Flexibility to assist in other departments and with special events as needed
  • Ability to work both autonomously and in a team environment.
  • Ability to perform physical tasks including but not limited to, lifting 50 pounds, carrying, stooping, bending, extensive walking, crawling, climbing, and working outside in the extreme weather conditions typical of Central Oregon.
  • Willingness to work flexible hours and days, including weekends and holidays, as necessary.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Knowledge of and passion for the High Desert ecoregion.
  • Experience working with native wildlife (wild and/or captive populations).
  • Advanced understanding of basic animal training theory. Strong skillset with training for choice-based behaviors to enhance health and welfare of animals in human care.
  • Experience training multiple taxa for voluntary behaviors.
  • Knowledge of aquatic systems and aquarium maintenance.
  • Experience with venomous species.
  • Experience with AZA standards for animal care.
  • Experience managing staff, volunteers or interns.

Responsibilities and Tasks

  1. Conducts daily care for animals in our Desertarium space including but not limited to, cleaning, feeding, watering, observing, training, records-keeping, enclosure/habitat maintenance and facility opening and closing duties.
  2. Provides support as needed to the care of other species including mammals and birds.
  3. Develops and implements training plans for assigned animals to accomplish goals related to welfare, husbandry, and responsible presentation of wildlife under the supervision of the Curator of Wildlife.
  4. Presents educational programs, with and without animal ambassadors, utilizing a holistic perspective in alignment with the Museum’s mission.
  5. May lead off-site field trips focused on conservation education for the public.
  6. Maintains wildlife exhibits with an emphasis on the health, welfare and safety of the animals that live there. Conducts basic maintenance inside and outside of exhibits including but not limited to clearing brush, trimming trees, watering, raking, shoveling, and snow and leaf removal.
  7. In coordination with the Communications Team, represents the Museum as needed in a variety of mediums, including social media, print, photography, and video, in materials produced by both the Museum and by journalists sharing the story of the Museum’s work.
  8. Embrace, support, and help implement the Museum’s continued learning and commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion
  9. Execute other duties as assigned as needed to help abide by the Museum’s values, drive our vision, and fulfill our mission

Additional Responsibilities and Tasks If Hired at the Senior Wildlife Specialist Level

  1. Coaches Wildlife Specialists on the development and implementation of Curator-approved training plans as assigned.
  2. Collaborates on the development of conservation education programs under the guidance of the Curator of Wildlife, Curator of Education and Engagement, and the Director of Programs.
  3. Collaborates with curators on researching, planning, renovating and/or constructing of permanent and changing exhibits related to wildlife.
  4. Purchases and inventories feed and supplies as necessary.
  5. Works with the Curator of Wildlife and contract veterinarians to provide an appropriate level of veterinary care for animals. Serves as a secondary point of contact with the contract veterinarian.
  6. Assists with the training of seasonal interns, and teen and adult volunteers under the guidance of the Curator of Wildlife.
  7. Optimizes the use of volunteers in various areas of the department (husbandry, enrichment, programs, etc.) by identifying appropriate and engaging ways to involve, train, motivate and retain volunteers.
  8. Assists with planning and coordination of animal acquisitions and dispositions under the Curator of Wildlife.

The Museum provides an equal employment opportunity to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/transgender status, age, disability, veteran or marital status, genetic information or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

Please send resume and cover letter to Human Resources.