Director of Conservation


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Position Title: Director of Conservation 
Department: Living Collections


The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is looking for its next Director of Conservation. Candidates must be dynamic and detail-oriented leaders who excel in building relationships, customer service, strategic thinking and bringing people together. This position will oversee the conservation department and will be directly responsible for building and growing the Zoo’s conservation programs and ensuring the zoo meets our strategic goals of sustaining resources, uniting our communities and being a champion for animals.

With new leadership, the Zoo is pursuing a new vision that centers around best practices for animal care, education, employee engagement, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, customer service, community engagement and partnerships and overall excellence.

The Pittsburgh Zoo is currently accredited by the ZAA, Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and is certified by American Humane. The Zoo is currently enrolled in the AZA’s Pathway towards membership program and applied in February for AZA accreditation.



The position of Director of Conservation exercises considerable authority and direct responsibility in the overall management and direction of the conservation department in a manner which continues the Zoo’s leadership on a national and international level. The Director of Conservation will ensure that the goals and objectives established by the Pittsburgh Zoo in support of its mission and strategic plan are met both at the zoo and the zoo’s 1,000 acre off sight facility, the International Conservation Center (ICC). Responsibilities include departmental strategic planning, program development and implementation of both in situ and ex situ programs, collaborating with other institutions and organizations, personnel hiring, training and evaluation, budget development and management, participation in site and facility planning, assistance in development and fundraising activities, professional networking, public relations and public speaking. This is a Senior Leadership position which reports to the Vice President of Living Collections and may be required to serve as on-site supervisor for the entire facility.


Essential Job Functions:

  • Helming a collaborative process between the conservation department and other departments in the zoo to further the zoo’s mission;
  • Provide leadership to the department in the form of long-range planning;
  • Work with senior leadership on conservation strategy for the organization;
  • Responsible for conducting and reviewing ongoing conservation programs.  Programs may be either ex situ or in situ.
  • Serves as the liaison between other departments as a member of the Senior Staff team. 
  • Facilitates the Zoo’s involvement in all types of conservation programs.  Administers the Pittsburgh Zoo’s Conservation Fund which funds researchers worldwide.
  • Develops and implements conservation efforts at the Zoo’s International Conservation Center.
  • Work with senior staff to ensure conservation initiatives occur throughout all departments.
  • Represents the Zoo to national and international agencies, board committees and the media.
  • Publish findings of the zoo’s conservation work in scientific journals.  Writes and publishes popular articles, presents both scientific and popular lectures.
  • Establishes relationships with local universities and colleges, academic institutions, local government and non-government organizations to develop collaborative research programs.  Maintains established relationships with universities and conservation programs abroad.
  • Coordinates efforts with the Zoo’s international partners.
  • Participate on and help guide the zoo’s Green Team.
  • Oversees and provides guidance for all departmental hiring, firing, performance review and disciplinary procedures.
  • Oversees the preparation and monitoring of the Departmental budget and oversees project budgets. 
  • Responsible for writing grant proposals and follow-up reports.
  • Actively participates in spring and fall staff retreats;
  • Live the core values of the institution

Other Functions:

  • Occasionally serves as zoo senior supervisor on weekends and holidays.
  • Develops and coordinates safety effort within the department;
  • Must be an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
  • Performs all other duties as assigned and directed.

Performance Factors:

  1. Successfully builds and maintains a diverse conservation portfolio that meets AZA requirements and contributes directly towards the conservation of species.
  2. KPI’s for conservation programs success.
  1. Attendance and Dependability: The employee can be depended on to report to work at the scheduled time and is seldom absent from work.  Employee can be depended upon to complete work in a timely, accurate and thorough manner and is conscientious about assignments.
  2. Communication and Contact: The employee communicates effectively both verbally and in writing with superiors, colleagues, and individuals inside and outside the Zoological Society.
  3. Relationships with Others:  The employee works effectively and relates well with others including superiors, colleagues, and individuals inside and outside the Zoological Society.  Exhibits a professional manner in dealing with others, and works to maintain constructive working relationships.
  4. Provides excellent customer service in the areas of guest relations.


Experience and Education

Position requires a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, zoology, environmental science or a related field or equivalent life experience.  Minimum of six years’ experience in conservation or related field in a supervisory capacity is required. Four years’ experience with national and international conservation initiatives that include programs that the candidate has personally developed and initiated successfully. Valid PA driver’s license (within 6 months of hire).

Skills and Aptitudes

  1. Knowledge of:
    1. Conservation issues and principles
    2. Propagation and husbandry of various species
    3. Budget planning
  2. Demonstrated ability to:
    1. Train, lead, supervise, and direct the work of others
    2. Communicate effectively (both oral and written) to a wide variety of audiences
    3. Maintain effective working relationships with other departments, staff, professionals from other zoo organizations, and the general public.
    4. Prioritize and delegate work.
    5. Standardize operations across the department.
  3. Computer skills – Fluency in Microsoft Office.

 Preferred Experience

  • Bilingual

Physical Requirements:

 Position works both in an office setting and in the field with exposure to outside weather conditions.  Must be available to work evenings, weekends and holidays, as well as travel locally and out of town as required.  Position requires ability to push, pull, carry, lift, walk, talk, bend, stoop, etc.

Current Covid vaccinations required.



Submit resume, cover letter, and pay rate requirements to:

Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is an Equal Opportunity Employer