Terrestrial Curator, Steinhart Aquarium

San Francisco, CA
Full Time

Reporting to the Director of Animal Care and Welfare, the Curator is a leader on a team responsible for the development, care, and management of the Aquarium's living collection and all associated habitats, support areas, programs, and systems. The Curator instills a culture of respect, trust, and accountability within the department and across the Academy. The Curator directly and indirectly manages and supervises other aquarium managers, biologists, interns, and volunteers, including schedules and work assignments. Assists the Senior Director and Director of Animal Care and Welfare in implementing the departmental strategic plan. The Curator is expected to lead and participate in relevant Academy committees and workgroups, professional associations, and partnerships with outside organizations. Helps develop impactful partnerships and programs and leads the department during Director and Senior Director absences. Work schedules may include holidays, evenings, and weekends.

Organization Culture:
Come join a team dedicated to the Academy’s mission, vision and values! Currently, the Academy has a new strategic plan including three initiatives – Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030 – that leverage biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement to regenerate fragile ecosystems around the world. Learn more at https://www.calacademy.org/about-us/major-initiatives.

We hope you are inspired by what we do and are excited to contribute to our mission. The Academy is looking for candidates who do great work, and we know they may come from a number of different backgrounds and experiences. We encourage you to apply even if you do not believe you meet every ­one of the qualifications for the position.

The position is a hybrid of on-site/work-from-home and can change as business needs warrant. The candidate must easily be able to work onsite at the Academy in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco when needed. Candidates are required to have up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving a booster shot, as a condition of employment, absent qualifying exemptions in accordance with applicable laws. Individuals receiving a conditional offer of employment from the California Academy of Sciences will be provided the full text of the vaccination policy.


  • Manages a team of biologists including hiring, training, daily supervision, scheduling, mentoring and performance evaluation. Supervises volunteers and interns.
  • Provides leadership, oversight and coordination of the development, daily care and management of the resident collection and assigned galleries, habitats and behind the scenes support areas within Steinhart Aquarium.
  • Coordinates the acquisition and transfer of specimens.
  • Responsible for helping to develop and implement the collection plan.
  • Responsible for helping to ensure that Steinhart Aquarium is managed in accordance with industry best-practices and the standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Fish and Wildlife, and other regulatory agencies and accrediting organizations.
  • Coordinates the development of concepts for displays and habitats, including research and development into novel species and their care, in collaboration with Exhibits Studio and Building Operations.
  • Coordinates the design and renovation of exhibits, in collaboration with Building Operations and Engineering.
  • Collaborates with the Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability to advance cross-divisional collaborative research projects.
  • Collaborates across the Academy to advance the Strategic Initiatives: Hope for Reefs, Islands 2030, and Thriving California.
  • Assists the Directors in the implementation of the departmental strategic plan and operating budget, manages programs, projects, and new exhibit installation involving the living collection.
  • Helps develop impactful partnerships and programs that support the overarching strategic goals of the Aquarium and the Academy.
  • Participates in relevant Academy committees and workgroups, professional associations, and partnerships with outside organizations.
  • Motivates develops, and enriches staff with the understanding that our people are our most important asset.
  • Actively helps develop and maintain a departmental culture that promotes trust, respect, accountability, and effective conflict-management.
  • Establishes and maintains positive, cooperative, and effective working relations with all fellow employees, and outside agencies, vendors, and other partners.
  • Presents science and environmental learning programs to the general public and in professional meetings.
  • Presents programs to the general public, media, and in professional meetings.
  • Conducts general tours of the Aquarium and support spaces.
  • Answers questions from the general public through a variety of means.
  • Interacts with professional colleagues, guests, the media and the general public in a professional manner.
  • Acts as departmental manager on duty in the absence of the Directors.
  • Follows all Academy safety regulations.
  • Other duties of similar scope and nature as otherwise assigned.



  • Bachelor's degree in Biology, Zoology, Marine or Aquatic Biology or a related field.
  • Advanced degree or coursework in Biology, Zoology, Marine or Aquatic Biology, Ecology, Botany, or a related field is preferred.
  • Minimum seven (7) years of progressive work experience in a major aquarium, zoological facility, or equivalent background.
  • Minimum five (5) years of progressive work experience and leadership in managing projects and supervising professional staff.


  • Excellent employee management and leadership skills.
  • Excellent observation, decision-making, problem-solving, and reporting skills.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Advanced knowledge of essential animal care and welfare requirements for the living collection.
  • Advanced knowledge of USDA and AZA standards for animal care and welfare.
  • Advanced knowledge of public aquarium/zoo operations, maintenance, record keeping, and life support systems.
  • Advanced knowledge of natural animal habitats and the ability to duplicate them in a controlled environment.
  • Ability to multitask, prioritize and delegate tasks.
  • Ability to present programs and effectively convey information to guests, the general public, the media, colleagues, and in professional meetings.
  • Ability to work both as a team leader and as a member of a team.
  • Ability to lead and cross-train staff in all assigned areas.
  • Ability to work as a member and leader of a team and engage in a culture that promotes trust, respect, and accountability.
  • Ability to utilize web-based communication and collaboration applications.
  • Experience with record-keeping software such as ZIMS, Formstack, and Google Drive.
  • Extensive experience with exotic animals, aquarium fishes, invertebrates, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and/or birds required.
  • Willing to work with venomous and dangerous animals.
  • Ability to complete CPR/AED/First Aid certification.
  • Experience with pest control measures preferred.
  • Experience in scientific research investigation preferred.
  • SCUBA certification from an internationally recognized agency is preferred.
  • Ability to read and interpret documents such as zoo and aquarium standard operating procedures, permit conditions and reporting requirements, accreditation standards, and animal transaction/shipping documents.
  • Holds valid California driver's license or ability to acquire one.
  • Ability to work weekends, evenings, and holidays as required.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: The work environment described here represents those items that must be met by an employee to perform the essential functions of this job successfully. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, reach with hands and arms, and talk or hear. Must be able to transport 50 lbs. Must be able to work at a computer and perform repetitive motions 75%​ ​of the time. Must be able to climb stairs and ladders. Must be able to swim. Must be able to use extension poles, long-handled nets, and shepherd’s hooks. Must be able to work with, or adjacent to, venomous and dangerous animals. This position may be performed remotely, no more than 40% of the time.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until filled.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Please upload a resume, cover letter, and complete the brief online application.

The California Academy of Sciences will give full consideration for employment to all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

The California Academy of Sciences is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to ensure that all employees and applicants receive equal consideration and treatment, regardless of race, color, creed, gender (including gender identity or gender expression), religion, marital or domestic partner status, age, place of birth, national origin or ancestry, physical, mental or medical disability, height or weight, sex, sexual orientation, citizenship, military service status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.



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