Members of the Aquarium department are responsible for maintaining all exhibits and systems for fishes, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles such as sea turtles and alligators. At Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, exhibits which house amphibians are under the management of the Herpetology department, which cares for such animals as Gila monsters, American crocodiles, pythons, Galapagos tortoises, and tree frogs. With previous experience, the entry-level position in this department is an aquarist. As experience is gained, however, there are more opportunities in supervisory and management positions.
a. Curator of Fishes
Main job duties: The Curator of Fishes manages the department so that the daily goals meet the long-range goals of the institution. The curator acquires new animal specimens, maintains an inventory of the collection, and monitors dietary habits of the animals. Responsible for all animal scientific research programs of the department, the curator also assists with the design and development of animal transportation methods and equipment, and consults on the design of new animal exhibits, working with contractors during the construction process. This position also participates in Education programs related to the department.
Initial training: Ten years experience, seven of which are at a managerial level, are required.
Minimum education: Bachelor's degree or equivalent in biological sciences; scuba certification
Works closely with: Aquarium Supervisor, Water Quality department, Mammal and Aviculture departments, Education department, Graphics department, and Design and Engineering department
Challenges: Long hours are required to accomplish all the things a curator does. One of the biggest challenges of this curator involves the development of innovative water filtration processes. He or she is also often required to travel on short notice and for extended periods to meet with other zoological professionals, to collect specimens from the field, and when transferring animals from one park to another.
b. Aquarium Supervisor
Main job duties: The supervisor position is responsible for guiding the aquarists in the daily operation of the department. In addition to preparing work schedules, the supervisor monitors exhibits, trains new employees, observes aquarists in action, and prepares work reviews for staff members. Supervisory duties also involve maintaining a current inventory of animal food and assisting in veterinary treatments.
Initial training: A minimum of two years (usually more) experience in the Aquarium department is required.
Minimum education: Bachelor's degree or the equivalent in biological sciences; scuba certification
Works closely with: Curator, aquarists, Water Quality department, Mammal and Aviculture departments, Education department, and Payroll department
Challenges: The Aquarium Supervisor must maintain accurate records, as well as manage and direct personnel so that animals receive proper care.
Main job duties: The responsibilities of this entry-level, but essential, position include the preparation and distribution of food to fishes, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles. Aquarists also monitor animal health and maintain careful records on nutrition, behavior, and water quality. In addition to keeping displays clean and setting up new exhibits, they assist with the collection of new specimens and their safe transport to the park.
Initial training: An aquarist should have a number of years of experience taking care of aquatic species, either as a dedicated hobbyist or by working in a pet store. An understanding of basic chemistry concepts and some plumbing skills are also helpful.
Minimum education: Associate's or Bachelor's degree; scuba certification
Works closely with: Other aquarists, laboratory staff, park guests, Education department, and Water Quality department
Challenges: An aquarist must prepare and distribute the correct type and amount of food for each species. Food preparation and exhibit cleaning involve hours of strenuous daily physical activity, including heavy lifting. Aquarists must be aware of water chemistry and work with their supervisors to maintain proper balances. Learning the needs of each species, maintaining environments at a high quality, and spotting health problems early, before they spread to other animals in a display, are vital, daily challenges.
Aquarists monitor animals' health and maintain careful records on nutrition, behaviors, and water quality.
Busch Entertainment Corporation.