Director, Animal Health \u0026 Welfare

    • Baltimore, MD

About the National Aquarium

Consistently recognized as one of the top aquariums in the nation, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to its mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. The Aquarium’s award-winning habitats are home to more than 15,000 animals representing 800 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. More than 400 full- and part-time employees and 900 volunteers drive the Aquarium’s mission. Annually, 1.3 million guests visit the Aquarium, and millions more participate in its conservation, education and engagement initiatives. The National Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).


The Aquarium opened in 1981 as a visitor attraction and has evolved into a conservation organization that operates a

world-class aquarium. The Aquarium is at the forefront of efforts to increase public awareness of the challenges facing our ocean, and to improve the health of the Baltimore Harbor, Chesapeake Bay and beyond.

Driven by the urgency of its mission, the work environment at the National Aquarium is high-energy, high-performance and fast-paced. We emphasize a learning culture that embraces continuous refinement, which means consistently seeking ways to improve animal care and welfare. We hold ourselves accountable to high expectations. It is a stimulating workplace that attracts unique and energetic people and is an excellent place to practice high-quality veterinary medicine.

Mission and Goals

Much of the ocean is mysterious to humans, and this is where the opportunity lies. We know that understanding what’s beneath the water’s surface and forging a deeper sense of connection to the ocean can inspire humanity to protect it. The three pillars of the National Aquarium brand—connecting, protecting, and sharing—are designed to instill a sense of hope for the long-term health and well-being of our blue planet in all those with whom we engage.

More information about the National Aquarium can be found at

The Position


The Director of Animal Health & Welfare position is based at the National Aquarium on Pier 3 of the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, located at 501 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.

Reporting Relationships

The Director of Animal Health & Welfare reports to the Vice President of Animal Care & Welfare and has four direct reports: two associate veterinarians, a veterinary fellow, and a hospital manager. Additionally, there are two indirect reports—veterinary technicians who report to the hospital manager—for a total staff of six.

Along with reporting relationships, peer relationships on the Animal Care & Welfare (ACW) team are just as important.

Peers include the Director of Life Support, Director of Dive Programs, Director of Animal Rescue, Director of Animal Husbandry, and the General Curator of Living Exhibits. This position will also have a close working relationship with the ACW husbandry curators, managers and staff.

This role is an outstanding opportunity for an enthusiastic and energetic individual to lead a group focused on animal welfare that is proud of its history yet not satisfied with the status quo. The ACW team as a whole is committed to ensuring that all animals in their care thrive.

Position Charter

The Director of Animal Health & Welfare is responsible for overseeing the administration and management of the Animal Health team within the ACW team, including participating in clinical practice. It is anticipated that approximately 60% of the Director of Animal Health & Welfare’s time will be spent doing managerial/strategic work and 40% will be spent involved in individual cases annually, with fluctuations from week to week. In partnership with the Vice President of Animal Care & Welfare and other ACW directors, the Director of Animal Health & Welfare determines the strategic direction for animal care and welfare operational activities, chairs the Animal Welfare

Committee, and partners with other departments to ensure that animal health and welfare are appropriately prioritized and incorporated throughout the organization while supporting the mission and goals of the National Aquarium.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

  • Leads the Animal Health team within the ACW team, overseeing staff, veterinary operations and programs, and ensuring accountability.
  • Supports leadership, planning and operational needs of the ACW team.
  • Directs a comprehensive program of veterinary health care for resident, quarantine and rehabilitation animals through clinical and preventative medicine.
  • Enhances collaboration with internal and external stakeholders to develop, implement and evaluate projects that fulfill the strategic priorities of the Aquarium and support science-based conservation and policy initiatives.


The Director of Animal Health & Welfare is expected to earn an attractive compensation package; appropriate benefits and some relocation assistance may be provided.

The Candidate

  • A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM/VMD) and a license to practice veterinary medicine in the United States are required.
  • A minimum of eight years’ experience in an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium as a clinical veterinarian (or equivalent) is preferred.
  • A current Maryland veterinary license or the ability to obtain one within two months of hire is required.
  • A USDA health certification and the ability to obtain an FDA license for controlled substances is required.
  • A valid motor vehicle operator’s license and acceptable driving record, as well as the ability to drive a variety of vehicles (cars, vans, trucks) is preferred.
  • ACZM or ABVP board certification preferred.
  • Preferred experience includes at least a one-year internship in small or large animal medicine, a one-year internship in aquatic/zoo animal medicine, and/or residency in aquatic or zoo animal medicine.

Preferred Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
  • Highly competent in clinical veterinary medicine with knowledge of pathology, surgery, radiology and internal animal medicine.
  • Highly knowledgeable regarding aquatic and exotic animal anatomy and the ability to apply standard clinical techniques to an Aquarium setting.
  • Completely knowledgeable of invertebrate, reptile, amphibian, avian and mammalian medicine, and veterinary medical expertise for bony and cartilaginous fishes from fresh and saltwater habitats.
  • Highly proficient in diagnosing and treating aquatic/exotic animal diseases, performing surgery, and completing laboratory work in anatomy, biochemistry, medicine and other scientific subjects.
  • Able to make decisions based on the best interest of each animal and the safety of staff.
  • Able to share information and knowledge via a variety of mediums to staff and members of the community, including but not limited to education, research, publications and presentations. Proficient in scientific research methods and presentation skills.
  • Proficient in software programs including collection management software such as Tracks.
  • Able to identify strategic departmental goals and objectives in accordance with the Aquarium’s mission and translate these into individual objectives for staff; able to evaluate and coach performance on those objectives.
  • Able to lead and develop staff, as demonstrated by experience or current aptitude; able to plan and support the development of staff members’ skills and abilities to fulfill current and future job responsibilities.

Desired Personal Traits
  • Excellent communicator: Communicates clearly, honestly and professionally with colleagues, staff and other stakeholders; genuinely listens to staff and makes recommendations; possesses superior oral and written skills.
  • Accountable: Demonstrates high levels of integrity through taking responsibility for results; uses resources thoughtfully and effectively; communicates with honesty and the highest degree of ethical and moral standards; develops short- and long-term plans for execution of strategic and operational objectives to hold self and others accountable.
  • Decisive: Makes quick decisions in emergency situations; makes effective decisions considering the full range of options, risks and potential outcomes; encourages lively discussion and diverse opinions to improve quality of decision making; remains calm under pressure.
  • Developer of others: Creates an inclusive, engaging team environment that fully leverages individual strengths, using their high emotional intelligence; recognizes and rewards positive behaviors and contributions from team members while effectively dealing with challenging or unproductive behaviors through development plans and feedback.
  • Mission-oriented: Aligns work with the mission of the Aquarium; demonstrates passion for mission of animal health and welfare in its many forms.
  • Effective leader: Leads by energizing and unifying the team to work together for improvement and change; cultivates and shares personal vision for the future to motivate and engage the team to generate solutions that lead the way in advancing animal welfare.
  • Strategic/critical/creative thinker: Formulates hypotheses and develops creative solutions for a variety of clinical and animal care issues; makes decisions while exhibiting sound and accurate judgement; leads group toward future goals.

Challenges and Opportunity

Key accomplishments for the new Director of Animal Health & Welfare in their first year and beyond include:
  • Become completely familiar with all operating aspects of the National Aquarium and the ACW team, including the animals, staff, finances, programs and services, community and volunteers.
  • Establish presence as Director of Animal Health & Welfare; develop and maintain outstanding working relationships National Aquarium ACW staff.
  • Successfully transition all Director of Animal Health & Welfare responsibilities from the

the Interim Director of Animal Health & Welfare.
  • Evaluate all aspects of the National Aquarium’s Animal Health team including operations, programs and services, staffing, technology and protocols. Implement and/or make recommendations on enhancements and changes to continue positive trends in animal health metrics.
  • Continue momentum of and directly contribute to the National Aquarium’s animal welfare program.
  • Work collaboratively with staff to achieve the National Aquarium’s mission and vision.
  • Encourage staff members in their own professional development. Actively and intentionally coach and mentor staff as needed to help each team member feel more invested in their roles.

Baltimore Metropolitan Area

The Baltimore metropolitan area’s population has grown in recent years, but it still has a small-town feel. Baltimore’s elegant architecture, friendly people, and lively pockets of nightlife and music make “Charm City” a pleasant and fun place to call home. The Baltimore area is rich in leading institutions in education and healthcare, renowned museums and attractions such as professional sports teams.

Baltimore is home to a variety of communities that are concentrated in the city’s individual neighborhoods, several dozen of which are designated as historic districts. Walking through these distinct areas provides a glimpse into the city’s diverse population and cultural heritage, represented in shops and award-winning eateries.

Baltimore’s history and attractions have allowed the city to become an attractive destination on the East Coast. Much of the city’s tourism centers around the Inner Harbor, with the National Aquarium being Maryland’s largest paid tourist destination.

  • Live Baltimore:
  • Baltimore Convention & Visitors Bureau:
  • Baltimore Chamber of Commerce:
  • Maryland Tourism:


The National Aquarium and WAVERLY PARTNERS firmly support the principle and philosophy of equal opportunity for all individuals regardless, race, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. Interested candidates should send a resume/CV to WAVERLY PARTNERS, the executive search firm retained by the National Aquarium on this search. Email:

Heidi Milosovic, Managing Director, 440-355-6629 Sara Cikalo, Managing Director, 440-933-0096

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