Skip to main content

Director of Animal Health

Job Details

Birmingham Zoo - BIRMINGHAM, AL
Full Time




The Director of Animal Health serves as a clinical veterinarian and is responsible for leading the Animal Health team and overseeing the Zoo’s veterinary medicine program. As a member of the Zoo’s leadership team, this position will participate in collection planning, master planning, and strategic planning, and other critical initiatives across the organization.




Administrative Responsibilities

  1. Develops and updates veterinary protocols and procedures that align with or exceed USDA, AZA, AVMA and AAZV guidelines.
  2. Ensures that the zoo is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulating agencies.
  3. Oversees the recruitment, and performance management of the Animal Health team.
  4. Develops and manages the department budget, including approving purchases, identifying vendors, and managing inventory.
  5. Builds a team culture that prioritizes animal wellbeing, staff wellbeing, and operational excellence in alignment with the Zoo’s core values.
  6. Builds strong relationships with other Zoo departments and facilitates resolving conflicts in a collaborative way.
  7. Participates in the selection, design, and construction of projects in the Zoo where applicable.
  8. Oversees the pest control program for the zoo.
  9. Participates in tours, events, and other guest programs in the zoo
  10. Other duties as assigned.




Clinical Veterinary Responsibilities

  1. Provides comprehensive medical care from a preventative medical approach including, but not limited to: physical examinations, disease and parasite prophylaxis, treatment and quarantine procedures.
  2. Provides treatment including but not limited to: anesthesia, prescribing and administering medications, surgery, using currently accepted veterinary standards to properly treat, cure, and/or control the affliction or injury. 
  3. Prescribes, administers, and evaluates results of diagnostic examinations, radiographs, and clinical pathology specimens including microbiology, blood samples, and fecal tests. 
  4. Recognizes various symptoms, diagnoses, and isolates causes of acute or chronic illnesses, infectious and noninfectious diseases, or injuries affecting animals in the collection. 
  5. Supports and participates in behavioral training of animals for medical procedures.
  1. Performs gross necropsies and interprets histopathological results with any ancillary diagnostics to prevent similar deaths if possible. Educates animal staff about mortalities.
  2. Accurately and timely documents and prepares written medical records(s) of any procedure conducted on any animal in the collection and ensures the record is incorporated into the animal’s permanent medical record. 
  3. Provides medical screening, quarantine examination, certification of health and/or crating of animals for new acquisitions and/or shipments of animals from the zoo.
  4. Remains current on general, zoo, and wildlife veterinary knowledge as well as pertinent regulations and veterinary standards
  5. Participates and engages in topic rounds and journal rounds.
  6. Handles Class II narcotics and controlled substances accurately. 
  7. Responds to requests from animal care staff concerning medical care for animals in the collection. 
  8. In consultation with animal management staff, determines when animals require euthanasia due to their medical condition or quality of life and performs this procedure when appropriate.   
  9. Provides training of animal keepers and other zoo staff about zoonotic diseases and veterinary considerations of zoo keeping and animal handling.
  10. Develops and maintains professional contacts with veterinarians of other zoos and participates in professional organizations. 
  11. With the General Curator, reviews and approves animal diets and enrichment.
  12. Responds to AZA and VAG surveys in a timely manner.
  13. Participates in education of veterinary student externs, interns, and veterinary technician interns.
  14. Provides appropriate emergency response to animal escapes
  15. Provides after hours coverage per on call procedures






  1. Associate Veterinarian
  2. Head Veterinarian Technician
  3. Registrar




The Director of Animal Health position is impacted by a wide variety of hazardous exposures:  

  • A hospital environment with all hazards common to the health industry such as needles, medications, USDA drugs, X-ray equipment, etc.
  • The handling of Class II narcotics and controlled substances.
  • The veterinarian will have to deal with the unpredictability of wild animals.
  • The care and husbandry of animals, some of which are dangerous.
  • The proper use and understanding of cleaning agents.


Specific training and procedures will be provided designed to maintain safety of people as the highest priority of the zoo followed by the safety of the animal collection. 


The use and understanding of a variety of personal safety equipment is mandatory. 


The Director of Animal Health, as with any staff member of the zoo, is required to be familiar with the Zoo’s overall safety policies as outlined in the staff handbook as well as being responsible for reporting any injury immediately to Human Resources. 




The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  While performing the duties of this job, the employee should expect:


  • Use of hands, fingers, tools or controls. 
  • Frequently required to stand; walk; sit; reach with hands and arms; stoop, kneel, crouch and communicate with others. 
  • Routinely lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. 
  • Exposure to wet surfaces.
  • Wearing a face mask for extended periods of time.
  • Exposure to the elements.



The Birmingham Zoo recognizes that skills and knowledge come from both formal and informal experiences including education, paid work, volunteer service, and life experience. Those who meet the majority of the requirements for a position are encouraged to apply.


 Education and work experience

  1. Must have a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from an institution accredited or recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  2. Must be able to obtain a valid state veterinary license and controlled substance certificate, DEA controlled substance registration certificate, and national USDA/APHIS accreditation.
  3. Five years relevant experience in zoo animal medicine required
  4. Experience in a leadership role supervising others is preferred.


Skills and Knowledge

  1. Proven teambuilding and relationship building skills focused on collaborative decision making and continuous improvement.
  2. Ability to think critically and demonstrated time-management skills.
  3. Strong written and verbal communication skills; ability to convey scientific information clearly and concisely.
  4. Presentation and public speaking skills.
  5. Knowledge of Microsoft Office and animal record keeping software
  6. Strong organizational skills with strong attention to detail.


Other Requirements:

  1. Must have current negative TB test and rabies titer and provide documentation, or be willing to have a TB test and rabies titer.
  2. Must be First Aid/CPR certified or willing to be trained and certified.
  3. Seasonal flu and COVID vaccination encouraged.
  4. Must be willing to travel occasionally.  Must have a current valid driver’s license with no serious traffic violations within the last five years.



  1. Full time
  2. Weekdays and weekends required with occasional evening work and holidays.
  3. Will be in “On Call” rotation.  Must be within 30 minutes of the Zoo when On Call.





Birmingham Zoo is dedicated to creating a global community where all people value wildlife and wild places. As a workplace, the Zoo is guided by its core values: Passion, Excellence, Teamwork, Sustainability, and Diversity & Inclusion. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and others who identify as nonwhite, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, neurodiverse individuals, and those with diverse lived experiences are encouraged to apply for this role.Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential duties and functions of this position. 


Birmingham Zoo is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected status or any other characteristic protected by law. 

 If selected, a background check and drug test will be conducted prior to beginning employment.