I have been studying koalas and their mating behaviors for the past 12 years. The greatest accomplishment for me is that the research we have been doing with our colony of koalas has led to advances in the conservation work that is being conducted with our collaborators in Australia. Our Zoo koalas and the research we have done with them have helped lead the way to changes in what field researchers examine in their wild koala counterparts; everything from genetics to scent and vocal communication to habitat use and mate choice. All of this plays a key role in the conservation of this iconic species!
After spending most of my career working with primates, I was thrilled to have a chance to work with another socially complex and highly intelligent species like elephants. Working with a socially intact herd that demonstrates all of the behaviors that make elephants the amazing animals they are is very exciting! We are able to contribute to a national study on elephant welfare, which will enhance husbandry knowledge. We have also developed a revolutionary protected-contact system that allows us to work with the elephants while maintaining safety for both the animals and staff.
San Diego Zoo has also accomplished the daunting task of forming a cohesive social group from individual, geriatric female elephants who have limited social development. We have taken the lead in a new national elephant welfare program. All this is vital to elephants thriving in zoos and beyond.