Director, National Zoological Park

US Government Other Agencies and Independent Organizations DC (District of Columbia)
* Duties

Help Duties Summary

The Director, National Zoological Park, heads a major research institute of the Smithsonian Institution (SI) which includes the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). The incumbent is responsible to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution through the Provost/Under Secretary for Museums, Education, and Research, and has authority and responsibility for the overall planning, direction and management of all the National Zoo's programs and activities.

The National Zoological Park (NZP), established by act of Congress in 1890, operates a public exhibition zoo of 1,635 acres in the middle of Rock Creek Park in the City of Washington, and a conservation and research facility of 3,100 acres outside Front Royal, Virginia. The NZP maintains a live collection of approximately 2,000 animals comprising over 400 species for exhibition, education and research. The NZP conducts diverse research programs, including the study of the exhibition animals, endangered species, breeding programs, animal management, nutritional studies, animal health pathology and behavioral studies.

The NZP conducts research and conservation programs in collaboration with other Smithsonian research institutes, universities, government agencies, and non-government organizations. The NZP conducts education programs primarily designed to promote understanding of the animal kingdom and wildlife conservation issues, and to make the programs (animal care and research) of the Zoo known to the public. Educational activities include school visits for elementary and secondary students, and intern and fellowship programs in cooperation with universities and colleges, and a George Mason University facility on the Front Royal campus.

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Responsible for direction and management of all departments and program offices within NZP (including the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) in the planning, development, and execution of all programs and activities. Formulates and recommends program goals and objectives to accomplish the basic purpose and mission of NZP to promote biodiversity research, conservation and education. Directs and monitors immediate and long-range program planning. Issues operating policies and priorities, and makes major policy decisions concerning operations, including matters of budget, staffing, organization, and facility management.

Oversees the Federal budget of NZP to assure timely submissions of budget information and material, the proper expenditure of funds according to applicable federal laws and Smithsonian guidelines, and the proper accounting processes and systems of control. Testifies at Congressional hearings on budget requests and other matters as required. Oversees similar processes and procedures for trust funds.

Responsible for raising funds from private individual, corporate, foundation and other sources through appropriate grants, gifts, and contracts. Develops and implements strategies and efforts to raise funds for its capital and endowment campaign as well as for its annual program. Builds the foundation for long-term financial health and prepares for future operating, endowment and capital needs by working with the Zoo Advisory Board to develop a committed fundraising leadership base and broadening the constituency of support. Works closely with the Zoo Advisory Board, the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) and its Board, Trustees, the Smithsonian's central Office of Advancement and other offices in developing and coordinating fundraising events and activities.

Promotes the image of NZP through various media, publications, and association with peer groups. Participates in a variety of professional organizations, programs, and activities.

Establishes and maintains effective working relationship with FONZ, the membership program designed to support NZP's educational and scientific programs. Works closely with the staff and Board of FONZ to help guide their policies and programs. Approves the allocation on FONZ net concession income for FONZ-provided services and for Zoo programs.

Provides a productive and creative climate for staff members to accomplish their respective program responsibilities effectively. Furnishes policy guidance and direction to subordinate program directors, and resolves problems which arise out of program operations. Provides leadership and guidance in modifying and/or improving proposed programs.

Delegates authority and responsibilities to subordinate program directors, and assures that they carry out their responsibilities effectively. Provides leadership in developing and administering policies to achieve management objectives in such areas as EEO, employee relations and personnel management. Reviews and approves recommendations for personnel actions affecting key subordinates, and is involved with senior recruitments, appointments, and promotions. Directs major studies to improve organization and staffing.

Provides overall direction and guidance in the management of living animals exhibited and maintained, including selection, housing, and disposition. Reviews and approves the selection of animals to be exhibited and maintained in the breeding collection. Approves the acquisition of animals through purchase, exchange, loan, and breeding to assure conformance with established acquisition plans and legal requirements of the United States and various foreign governments.

Responsible in cooperation with Smithsonian Facilities (SF) for the renovation, modernization, maintenance, and improvement of the physical plant and facilities. In consultation with appropriate staff, sets priorities and directions and places emphasis on certain areas of facility management activities. In cooperation with SF, participates in planning sessions on new construction, including coordination with the Fine Arts Commission and the National Capital Planning Commission. As required, defends construction programs and budgets before the Congress.

Conducts a continuing onsite inspection of facilities and operations to maintain first-hand knowledge of program operations, to check on work progress, and to provide advice and guidance in resolving problems encountered.

Represents SI at high level meetings and conferences with other government agencies, foreign governments, conservation and wildlife societies, national and international zoo organizations. Maintains continuing contact with the various peer groups in the zoo and the general conservation community to promote NZP programs and to coordinate programs of mutual interest.

Attends high level SI strategic planning and policy meetings and conferences, making significant contributions to the development of SI policy and priorities.

Supervisory status


Promotion Potential


Who May Apply This job is open to…

This position is open to all applicants with the right to work in the United States

Questions? This job is open to 1 group.

* Job family (Series)

0401 General Natural Resources Management And Biological Sciences

* Requirements

Help Requirements Conditions of Employment

* Pass Pre-Employment Background Investigation

* May need to complete a Probationary Period

* Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer



Applicants must clearly demonstrate the necessary level of managerial and leadership skills and competence to perform successfully in this position. This includes a degree in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position, or a combination of education and appropriate experience that provides knowledge comparable to that normally acquired through successful completion of a four year course of study in an applicable subject matter field.


In addition, applicants must have one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the GS-15 level. Specialized experience is defined as the demonstrated knowledge and leadership skills as it relates to planning and managing a large, multi-facet zoological, aquarium, research or conservation organization. The applicants that meet the basic qualifications will be evaluated further against the following criteria:

1. Demonstrated experience in planning, directing, and managing a multi-disciplinary zoo, aquarium, research or conservation organization – to include planning and allocation of staffing and financial resources, and any experience with the regulatory requirements and best practices in animal care. This should include experience in formulating and implementing strategic priorities, goal setting, establishing metrics and reporting protocols.

2. Demonstrated entrepreneurial ability to build relationships and lead collaborative initiatives internally and externally with organizations to leverage support for and participation in programs.

3. Successful track record of raising funds from individuals, foundations, corporations and governmental organizations through gifts, grants and partnerships.

4. Demonstrated skill in leading, supervising and managing a multi-disciplined and culturally diverse workforce, including fostering teamwork and high morale; attracting, retaining, motivating, and providing guidance to a diverse workforce; and implementing EEO/Affirmative Action policies and programs.