It takes a lot of different types of people to make the Zoo run. We need veterinarians and zoo keepers to care for the animals, teachers to educate and inspire, security to keep all the animals and visitors safe, operations staff to keep the Zoo clean, serve food, take tickets, and other day to day operations, and we need a whole host of administration staff behind the scenes to keep the Zoo up and running.
Thanks to all those who work so hard and take excellent care of our animals and visitors!
Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo received his BS and DVM degrees from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Born in the Adirondack region of New York State, Dr. Parrott spent his high
school years in Miami, Florida before moving to Colorado to attend college. Upon graduation from veterinary school, he completed an internship at the Denver Zoo and later went into private practice in Castro Valley,
California. His specialty is exotic animals and he was a consulting veterinarian for Oakland Zoo until 1984, when he became the Staff Veterinarian and Assistant Director. A year later, he became the Executive Director
at Oakland Zoo. Dr. Parrott has overseen many new developments at the Zoo in the past twenty five years. An avid conservationist and naturalist, he views the role of zoos as instrumental to environmental education.
As Chief Financial Officer, Nik directs institution-wide financial functions with a focus on accounting, planning and information technology. Responsible for evaluating, directing, implementing and communicating approved plans, he also manages strategic and operating plans/budgets. In his previous position at Oakland Zoo, Nik served as Director of Strategic Initiatives where he led planning of the Zoo’s transformational California Trail, a three-stage, multi-million dollar project that includes a new Veterinary Hospital (opened in 2012), a Biodiversity Center (opening Summer 2013), and the California Trail scheduled to open in 2016. Nik began his career in the non-profit sector, working in international public policy at the World Resources Institute, World Bank and corporate responsibility at Business for Social Responsibility. After developing and growing a program that helps social entrepreneurs access capital, Nik moved to the commercial world at Levi Strauss & Co. Nik holds an MBA from U.C. Berkeley and an undergraduate from Vassar College. A 15-year resident in the Bay Area and a father of two, Nik lives in Alameda.
Nancy Filippi joined Oakland Zoo in the summer of 2006 as the Director, Marketing / PR and in January 2010 became Managing Director, Operations and Marketing.
Since 1980, Nancy has worked with Fortune 500 companies focusing on brand development, new product launch campaigns, promotional marketing and advertising. Her experience spans
from national director of marketing / media / advertising with a major broadcast company to alliance relationship management, leveraged media promotions in television, radio and
print for worldwide theme parks. She has developed consumer-based programs providing informed product awareness, charted the course of newly introduced national products,
industry offerings, package design, shelf-space proclivity, sales campaigns, creative marketing and advertising campaign development. In her new post she manages food and beverage,
retail, zoo rides and group services in addition to her continuing role in the Marketing/PR department. She also is heavily involved in strategizing to improve the visitor experience
at the Zoo. She is a recipient of numerous awards in the consumer packaged goods industry, as well as the "Legacy Award" from the "Business Women's Network" in Washington, D.C.,
Nancy holds a B.A. in Business with an emphasis in Marketing.
Randy has 20 years of Human Resources Management and Consulting Experience. His nonprofit experience is as the Director of Human Resources for Golden Gate Graduate School/Seminary and as the Senior Director of Human Resources for Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco for several years. Randy’s consulting experience consisted of working for organizations such as Teach for America (for the Kansas City School District), ThinkHR (knowledge based consultancy), and ADP TotalSource (over 70 companies with 4,000 employees). Randy holds the highest HR credentials - Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM-SCP. He is a Certified Healthcare Reform Specialist (CHRS)and is Hay Compensation System Certified. Randy is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA). Educationally, Randy holds Bachelor of Science in Counseling Psychology. In addition to his graduate study in a Master of Science in Administration (Human Resources emphasis) from Central Michigan University, he has a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership (MAEL), a Master of Divinity (MDIV), and a Master of Theology (THM) from Golden Gate Seminary and Graduate School. He is currently in a Doctorate program at Fuller focusing on Leadership Theory and Organizational Structure in Effective Organizations. Randy has two rescue dogs and fosters dogs for local rescue groups. He loves to road trips and chasing waterfalls!
Biruk Weldhana is Controller at Oakland Zoo. He administers programs to attract and retain an exceptional, diverse workforce, as well as being committed to the collective
success of the Zoo. As Director of Operations for Oakland Zoo, Biruk oversaw guest services, the gift shop, the food service and the rides area. Prior to joining Oakland Zoo, Biruk was a
Project Director at Compassion International, a non-profit organization helping underserved children with their education and daily needs. Biruk completed his degree at San Francisco State University
- School of Business where he majored in Accounting.
Sara Becker comes to Oakland Zoo with over two decades of experience in nonprofit development and management. As the Zoo prepares to break ground on the California Trail project, Sara focuses on building Oakland Zoo’s relationships with individual and legacy donors. Her favorite part of the work is spending time with the Zoo’s wonderful, committed supporters - many of who have been contributing to the Zoo for decades. She is fond of boasting that hers is a “zoo family” with a son and daughter-in-law working at the Phoenix Zoo.
Shannon Foucault is focused on completing the funding campaign that will help realize Oakland Zoo’s “California Trail” project. A history enthusiast, she is interested in the relationship between the people, flora and fauna of California, and is excited to see Oakland Zoo explore and share that story with the public. Shannon joins the Zoo from California College of the Arts in Oakland, where she managed an extensive grants program and helped to expand relationships with corporate donors. Before that, she worked with the American Institute of Architects in New York to build up all areas of fund development and organize special events. Connecting patrons to organizations with innovative public education projects, such as the “California Trail”, is one of the many strengths she brings to the endeavor.
Sarah Cramer is the Membership Manager at Oakland Zoo. In this capacity, she is responsible for the planning and oversight of member programs and benefits, supervising the membership team, and contributing to Development department projects. Sarah joined Oakland Zoo in 2002 as a part time instructor for the Education Department. Over the years she has held many responsibilities, including coordinating the ZooMobile outreach program, training new animal handlers, coordinating docent training, serving as Interim Volunteer Coordinator, and from 2007-2014 she was ZooCamp Director. Sarah previously worked at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and the Golden Gate Recreation Area. She received a BA in Biology from Carleton College, in Minnesota and is both a Certified Interpretive Guide and Certified Interpretive Trainer with the National Association for Interpretation.
Erin is responsible for all aspects of public relations and advertising, including conceiving of and building campaigns, composing press releases, coordinating media coverage, media planning, production of commercial spots and online advertising. Prior to her current position at the Zoo, Erin served as Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications where she managed the Zoo website(s), social media platforms, and various marketing campaings. She also filmed and edited short-form videos, developed the Zoo’s new App for smartphones and tablets and helped build up the Zoo’ multimedia library. Previous to the Zoo, Erin worked in various Marketing/PR positions for Pixar Animation Studios, InVism, Inc., WildAid and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Her favorite part of her job has been conceiving of and producing the Animal Art Show at Oakland Zoo in 2014 and 2015. Erin has a bachelors degree in English Literature from UCLA and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Saint Mary’s College.
Emilie helps maintain Oakland Zoo's finances. She creates journal entries, month-end accruals and entries, bank reconciliation information, and supervises accounts payable. Prior to working at Oakland Zoo, Emilie was a Senior Accountant at MSC Mortgage, Inc. located in Santa Monica, California. She graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, where she majored in Accounting. When not working with numbers, Emilie enjoys walking throughout the Zoo and visiting the animals.
Chris is in charge of the computer systems at Oakland Zoo. He has worked at Oakland Zoo since completing a degree in philosophy from the UC Berkeley in 2004. The connection between these disciplines might not be obvious at a glance, but computer systems are structured such that they follow from the principles of symbolic logic, a cornerstone in a philosophical education. At Oakland Zoo, Chris fixes all kinds of computer problems, from ethernet cable troubles and damaged phone lines to maintaining systems for animal medical records, point-of-sale systems, and the more typical network maintenance and desktop support for the Zoo's computer users. Chris says the variety of IT needs for a Zoo make his work far more interesting than computer support at many other types of institutions. His favorite animals are tigers, chimpanzees, and tauntauns. In his free time, he reads philosophy and political news, watches soccer avidly, and cooks French food.
With over 20 years experience in buying and merchandising, Moe enjoys purchasing a wide assortment of products for our Gift Shop that he hopes people will find warm, educational and stimulating. Previously the Director of Operations and Purchasing for a wholesale gift import company as well as a Retail Buyer, most notably for Discover Channel. A Bay Area native with a keen interest in architecture, film and music, Moe is also freelance painter, hiker and residential design consultant, lending advice and guidance to budget-minded individuals wanting to change their living environment. On his lunch break he usually enjoys spending time with the giraffes.
Jason comes to us with 23 years of experience in food and beverage industry. He started his career in the kitchen working up from washing dishes to becoming a Certified Chef de Cuisine managing a multi-outlet operation in Pebble Beach. With a passion for food and wine, Jason is also a certified sommelier. He has a personal commitment to sustainable practices and has been an advocate and volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium supporting their Cooking for Solutions Seafood Watch fundraisers. Additionally, Jason has implemented farm-to-table programs at locations throughout Northern California. While not working at the Zoo he enjoys coaching youth sports, hiking, rooting for the Oakland A's, and fishing.
Todd got his start at the zoo in 2004 volunteering with the elephants. He found their quiet grace inspiring. When he wasn't volunteering, he was a chef for the stars, flying in private Luxury Class jets cooking elaborate meals for many people, including Oscar-winning stars. After 20 years of flying, Todd decided to switch gears and stay closer to home. His love for animals brought him to Oakland Zoo's Island Café. In April 2010, Todd was promoted to Manager of Food and Beverages. His new role is to supervise staff, manage ordering, and orchestrate all details for the food service at the Zoo. In his free time, Todd volunteers at the elephant barn.
Bob Westfall is responsible for overseeing the Public Safety/Security, Maintenance, Grounds, and Janitorial Departments. Bob has served the Zoo in several capacities and has witnessed countless improvements during his 25 year affiliation. The key to his motivation is the ongoing renovation and potential expansion. He has an extensive background in Park Safety, Law Enforcement, Loss Prevention, Contract Security, and Operations Management. His former employers include both the Oakland Office of Parks and Recreation and the Police Department. He was also priviliged to serve as an Animal Keeper and Amusement Rides Operator at Children's Fairyland on Lake Merritt while obtaining a degree in Administration of Justice. Bob is committed to the development of employee professionalism and service excellence, as well as maintaining the Zoo's reputation as a safe environment for its guests and their families.
Colleen Kinzley is the Curator at Oakland Zoo. In this position she manages the Animal Department and makes plans for new animals and exhibits. Colleen started her career at the Phoenix Zoo in 1983 working with elephants among other animals. In 1990 she came to Oakland Zoo as the manager of the Zoo's elephant program. Colleen leads the Zoo's efforts in elephant research and conservation. She hosts the Zoo's annual Celebrating Elephants events raising awareness and support for elephants in the wild. She also participates in research both here at the Zoo and in Namibia studying elephant communication and social behavior.
Jeff Kinzley is the Elephant Manager at Oakland Zoo. In this position he is responsible for the care of the Zoo's African elephant herd. Jeff coordinates training of the elephants in our Protected Contact management system using positive reinforcement. This allows the staff to provide husbandry and veterinary care to insure the elephant's health. Jeff also oversees the elephant's enrichment and exercise making sure that the elephants are kept active and engaged in natural behavior patterns. Jeff began as an elephant keeper at Oakland Zoo in 1996. He took a position at the San Diego Zoo in 2000 working with their elephants. He returned to Oakland Zoo in 2003 to manage the elephant program. Under Jeff's leadership a special keeper position was developed to ensure that the elephants and other Zoo animals have ample tree branches for forage.
After graduating with a degree in Zoology and Animal Science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Gina decided to fulfill her goal of caring for animals by pursuing a career in zoo keeping. As a volunteer intern in 2005, Gina was introduced to the Oakland Zoo Elephant Program and shortly thereafter became a full time elephant keeper. Since her time as a keeper she has been able to travel to Namibia to help participate in wild elephant behavioral research, has advocated the truth about circus abuse and appropriate management practices, and has taken a leading role in participating in elephant welfare related studies, including foot care management. Recently, in her position as Co-Elephant Manager, she helps oversee the psychological and physical well-being of the zoo’s four African elephants. She has played an active role in the coalitions for both AB 96, a California bill to ban ivory sales, and SB 716, a California bill to prohibit the use of the bullhook, while promoting the Zoo’s mission of education and conservation.
Margaret manages the animals and staff in the Children's Zoo and most of the primates. She is also responsible for training throughout the zoo, scheduling projects for corporate volunteers, liaising between the Animal Management and Education Departments, and managing the Western Pond Turtle conservation and head-starting project. She arrived at Oakland Zoo in 2006. Margaret has trained animals of nearly every type including primates, dolphins, hoofstock, carnivores and birds at the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld Orlando and the Phoenix Zoo. Her specialty is husbandry training in which animals are trained, using positive reinforcement, so that they can voluntarily participate in their own medical care for minor procedures such as radiographs, blood draws, ultrasounds, and injections. She has also trained and performed in dolphin shows and free-flighted bird shows. Margaret has a BA in Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara, an AS in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College, and lots of continuing education through attending conferences and reading trade journals, as well as publishing and presenting her own projects and studies.
Darren Minier joined Oakland Zoo as a Zoological Manager in July 2013. Managing a diverse and large number of animals in the Rainforest, African, and High Veldt areas of the Zoo, Darren also manages the ACCR Volunteer Program which includes Animal Care Volunteers, Interns, and the Behavioral Observation Team. In addition, Darren oversees the Zoo’s research programs investigating animal care, welfare, and conservation. Prior to joining Oakland Zoo, he oversaw international and zoo-based research programs for the International Institute for Human-Animal Networks at UC Davis and coordinated the development of the animal training program at the California National Primate Research Center. He has also held positions at the Los Angeles Zoo, Sea World San Diego, and the San Diego Zoo. Darren currently serves as the Chief Information Officer and Chair of the Research and Evaluation Committee for the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, and serves several other professional organizations such as the International Primatological Society and the Animal Behavior Society. Darren holds a BS in Conservation Biology from UC Davis, a Masters Degree in Zoo and Aquarium Leadership from George Mason University, and AS degrees Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College. Darren believes ‘that the key to animal well-being - for animals both free-ranging and in human care - is at the human-animal interface, where we work alongside the animals in our care to give them the best life possible.’ Born and raised in Southern California, Darren moved to Northern California in 2006.
Amy Gotliffe has a mission to connect all human beings to nature, envisioning a planet where all species live in peaceful co-existence. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications, several teaching credentials and a Master’s Degree in Ecological Education. She also holds certifications in humane education, nature-based leadership, conservation psychology, human-wildlife conflict resolution, nature interpretation and influencing conservation behavior change. She has worked at various Bay Area educational and environmental institutions, creating campaigns, planting pollinator gardens, teaching all ages, producing earth day events and generally influencing positive change in wildlife conservation and green living.
As Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo, she coordinates international, national and local conservation efforts, creates positive partnerships and alliances, produces a Conservation Speaker Series, leads international conservation expeditions, produces awareness events, coordinates the Zoo’s on-site sustainability efforts and leads massive and enthusiastic, inter-departmental efforts to conserve biodiversity around the globe and in our own backyards.
Karen A. Emanuelson, DVM, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physiology in 1982 from the University of California Davis; and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM) from the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1986. She completed a zoological medicine internship at Whipsnade Zoo, Zoological Society of London, England. She also was co-owner of Cottage Veterinary Hospital, a mixed exotic and wildlife practice in California, for 7 years. She has served as a faculty clinician at the UC Davis Zoological Medicine Service while working concurrently with Oakland Zoo. Dr. Emanuelson is a member of several organizations, including the American Association of Zoological Veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Wildlife Disease Association, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She is a representative to the Giant Panda Species Survival Program of the AZA. Dr. Emanuelson has been associated with Oakland Zoo since 1987; she joined the zoo full-time in 2000. Currently she is the Director of Veterinary Services and Research at Oakland Zoo.
Dr. Andrea Goodnight is the Associate Veterinarian at Oakland Zoo. From cleaning a tiger's teeth to bandaging a bird's broken wing, she and the zoo's other veterinarian are responsible for the healthcare of all the animals in the collection. There is still much to learn about many of the "exotic" animals, so zoo veterinarians must be creative problem solvers, drawing on knowledge of domestic species in order to treat their patients. Dr. Goodnight enjoys this aspect of her job, noting that every day is a learning experience. She began her zoo veterinary training while still a student, spending her summers working at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio. After graduating from veterinary school in 2001, she continued her training as an intern at Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital, learning the latest techniques in small animal medicine, surgery and emergency medicine. Next, she completed zoo internships at the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama and the Indianapolis Zoo from 2002-2004. She then went on to complete a zoo medicine residency at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio before joining Oakland Zoo in 2006. She is very excited to be in California and strives to contribute to Oakland Zoo's conservation and education mission.
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As Oakland Zoo’s Director of Education, Bo De Long-Cotty has over 25 years’ experience in pre-K-12 STEM research and development in both formal and informal settings. Her work has included curriculum and program evaluation and assessment; teaching; K-12 STEM curriculum development (including classroom curriculum and hands-on kits, toys, and games); educational and instructional technology; project-based learning; systemic reform; social-emotional learning; and child and youth development and prevention. Prior to joining the Zoo in 2011, Bo worked as Senior Research Associate and Project Director for WestEd, in the STEM, Health and Human Development, and Standards and Assessment Development programs. She has also developed curriculum, designed evaluation studies, and provided professional development for Lawrence Hall of Science, Boston Museum of Science, San Jose Children’s Tech Museum, Center for Science in AZ, and the Indianapolis Art Museum. She received a BS from Purdue University in Indiana, a MA in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University in NY, and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Liz earned her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she found her passion for educating the public about animals during an Education Internship at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero. There, she helped care for their education animal collection, run programs, and create curriculum. Throughout her college career, Liz also worked with the Cal Poly Leopard Tortoise colony, and founded the Zoo and Exotic Animal Careers Club in order to help other students find their own career in the field. After graduating in 2010, Liz was hired as an Oakland ZooCamp counselor, and proceeded to stay on part-time after the summer, working overnights, school programs and later as ZooCamp Clerk. She recently became the Director of Oakland Zoo’s ZooCamps program and is responsible for coordinating all aspects of our summer and school break day camps.
Felicia Walker is the Coordinator of Education Program Animals, and brings to her position over 13 years’ experience in informal science education, conservation, field research, animal care, and building international partnerships. Felicia works closely with zookeepers to coordinate, train, and present animals in a variety of educational settings. In addition, as an Education Specialist, she teaches programs, leads tours, participates in the Zoo’s Conservation ZooMobile, and coordinates events at the Clorox Wildlife Theater. Prior to working at the Oakland Zoo, Ms. Walker studied at Kansas State University to complete a BA in Animal Science with a Minor in International Agriculture Studies. During that time, she also served as Assistant Curator of Education at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.
Lisa O’Dwyer has served as Assistant Director of Education and Volunteer Program Director for the past six years. She is responsible for overseeing all areas of the Zoo’s volunteer program including Docents, volunteers, special events, community groups, and tours. Before joining the Oakland Zoo, she spent 10 years as the Social Services Designee and Volunteer Director at a local hospital. Lisa brings to the Education Department her many years of experience in the areas of volunteer management, recruitment, and training. She received her BA in Human Development with an emphasis in Gerontology from Cal State Hayward.
Chantal came to the Zoo from South Africa, where she completed her education in the fields of Personnel and Administration. Before moving to the US in 2000, Chantal worked for three years as an administrator for a medical clinic in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. After arriving in the US, she worked for an East Bay Veterinary Hospital in California as their Practice Manager and later in a communications role where she worked closely with clients and their pets to ensure their well-being. Chantal completed the Oakland Zoo’s comprehensive Docent Program in 2010 and joined the Education Department as the Volunteer Programs Assistant. She was later promoted to Assistant Director of Volunteer Programs. Chantal coordinates and administers a number of the adult volunteer programs and zoo-wide events, including community group programs, Docent Walking tours, Oakland Zoo Veterinary Hospital Tours, and Docent and Volunteer Orientations. Chantal is the chair of the Docent Conservation Committee and a member of the Docent Training Committee, which she helped redesign in 2013.
Katie Garchar is Manager of Teen Programs and has worked in the Education Department since 2014. In this position, she oversees the Zoo’s many teen programs and offerings, including the successful Teen Wild Guide and ZooCamp Teen Assistant volunteer programs, high school-to-college/career events, and the international Teen Eco-Trip Field Research program. Born and raised in the East Bay, Katie has been an Oakland Zoo fan her whole life, including attending ZooCamp as a child. Katie graduated from the University of Santa Cruz with a BA in Environmental Studies, and is an ardent animal awareness advocate. Katie’s career in wildlife education began as a tour guide for fourth-graders at a local lagoon. From there, she moved on to substitute teaching in multiple grades and subjects, and coaching high school soccer. Katie also worked as an environmental education associate for StopWaste.Org, where she learned about the Bay Area’s waste practices and taught students about the 4 R’s - reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. Before coming to Oakland Zoo, Katie spent four months as a volunteer teacher in Guatemala, and served as Day Camp Director and a marine science teacher in the Florida Keys, where she drove boats of students to coral reefs for snorkel tours and taught science labs back in the classroom.
Daniel Flynn joined Oakland Zoo in 2010, and currently manages Family, School and Community Programs. Daniel has also served as a ZooCamp teacher, Zoo Ambassador, and Education Specialist. In his position, Daniel oversees a broad range of K-12 conservation and environmental science education programs that serve over 40,000 students each year, as well as numerous family and community programs, like boy and girl scout badge and journey workshops, family overnights, birthday parties, ZoovieNights, and community festivals and events. As Manager of the Zoo-to-Community Initiative, Daniel sees that children and families from underserved neighborhoods and schools receive free Education programs here at the Zoo and in their classrooms and communities, generally reaching about 5,000 participants per year. Daniel has worked in both informal and formal education, mentoring in afterschool programs throughout Oakland, interpreting at the Aquarium of the Bay, and teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Daniel is a dedicated and spirited teacher who loves educating all ages, from tots to teens to adults.
Planning Your Visit
Explore The Zoo
History & Future Planning
East Bay Zoological Society