Unusual Animal Careers: California Opportunity

Ali (a subscriber and animal job sleuth) sent me a job announcement for the Gorilla Foundation. Thanks Ali–just read my commentary here and then scan this past Gorilla Foundation lawsuit announcement and the Gorilla Foundation’s settlement announcement.

You be the judge, opportunities with exotics are competitive and the pay on this one starts at US$30,000 (which is pretty good) and there is an opportunity for management. The complete Gorilla Foundation job posting can be found at Craigslist SF.

My thoughts? Well, like I mentioned in the commentary, the Foundation has not been very respected in the professional animal community. So, if you have higher aspirations elsewhere it might not be a good choice–but if you want a long-term job with two gorillas–this would be the place.

The Gorilla Foundation seems to offer great benefits and working with sign language with apes is a fascinating field. In my early years I worked at a facility where Dr. Roger Fouts temporarily setup residence with Washoe, Moja, and Loulis. Washoe had lots to say but my sign language wasn’t too good.

My only claim to fame with those apes was that Washoe called me dummy in ASL as a result of her frustration over failed attempts to communicate with me–which sent Dr. Ken Decroo (who was working with Fouts) into hysterical laughter when I asked him what that sign meant–geez.

Just let me say it was great motivation to boost my ASL skills…and on a side note, Washoe’s memory (she died in October 2007) was just honored by the Washington State House of Representatives.

Anyway, the Gorilla Foundation does not want any phone calls and are seeking someone already living in the San Fransisco Bay area, here is an excerpt from the posting:

Major Responsibilities
• Prepare and deliver meals
• Monitor the health and well-being of gorillas through behavioral observations and biological samples
• Gather and analyze behavioral, communication and medical data
• Prepare and implement environmental enrichment
• Clean and perform general maintenance in gorilla facilities
• Support communication-based research with gorillas (via American Sign Language and natural gorilla gestures)
• Collaborate with research and business staff on Foundation-related projects

Minimum Qualifications
• 3 years of full-time, paid work experience – preferably in animal care
• College degree(s) in a relevant field such as: animal behavior, anthropology, biology, ethology, linguistics, primatology, psychology, or zoology
• Affinity for animals, reflected in experience, volunteerism, etc.
• Strong written and verbal communication skills
• Excellent employment history (on time, responsible, etc.)
• Commitment to learn American Sign Language at an accelerated pace (must pass an ASL proficiency test within 3 months of hire)
• Computer literate (Mac and/or PC)
• Superior Work Ethic:
— Ability to give focused attention to the task at hand (presence)
— Service oriented and self motivated
— Positive attitude with sense of humor
— Self reliant — able to learn by asking questions
— Self-assured — able to advance by acknowledging mistakes
— Well organized / efficient
— Able to follow defined protocols
— Calm with good common sense

Desirable Qualifications
• Experience performing observational research and publishing results
• Knowledge of American Sign Language (ASL) and/or Linguistics
• Veterinary Technician/EMT experience or training
• Practice of self-observation as a tool for growth
• Free of compulsive thinking

Special Requirements:
• Desire to make a long-term commitment— the gorillas value long-term relationships
• An initial evaluation period to establish compatibility with the gorillas
• Must be able to work full-time (40 hrs/wk) including weekends, holidays, and possibly evening shifts.
• We are focusing on candidates who live in the Peninsula or Silicon Valley region of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here at Ark Animals we are still busy moving the site over. This blog location will change once we are done–and I’ll put up a redirect page for you. It is moving to the index.

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  1. Sounds like a dream job for the right person. My aunt worked there for a while. She did not have a good experience, but perhaps things have improved since the lawsuit.

  2. Hey Michelle, thanks for leaving a comment. Like I said, the professional animal community doesn’t look on the place very highly–but we can all hope things have improved!