New Chief Conservation Officer Appointed

Aug. 13, 2020


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New Conservation Leadership Will Increase Focus on Integrating Wildlife Health with Conservation Science

San Diego Zoo Global announces today the integration of its well-known conservation research and science efforts with its wildlife health expertise, to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. Nadine Lamberski, DVM, DACZM, DECZM (ZHM), will take on the newly created role of chief conservation and wildlife health officer, leading a unified team of conservation scientists, researchers, wildlife nutritionists and wildlife veterinarians, and developing a comprehensive strategic approach to San Diego Zoo Global’s conservation efforts.

“San Diego Zoo Global is preparing to meet the future challenges of wildlife,” said Paul A. Baribault, president/CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “As a leader in wildlife health, we have a responsibility to ensure our conservation efforts incorporate comprehensive and collaborative strategies that lead to meaningful outcomes for wildlife. By combining our conservation science teams with our wildlife health teams, we are building the wildlife conservation organization of the future—and empowering it to effectively develop full-spectrum conservation strategies.”

In recent years, San Diego Zoo Global has been exploring stronger collaborations with community-led conservation efforts, understanding that true conservation successes require integration across disciplines to address the health of wildlife, ecosystems and human communities, so all may thrive. Broad spectrum conservation projects, such as San Diego Zoo Global’s work in Kenya, are examples of bringing the full slate of organizational resources to support transformational outcomes for wildlife.

“We know that human health is tied to the health of wildlife, and to the health of our planet,” said Dr. Lamberski. “This is clearer now—more than ever before. We have been inspired by our partners in Kenya, who have successful conservation initiatives that foster coexistence with wildlife and build sustainable populations of species in a holistic fashion— improving the welfare of wildlife, the condition of the grasslands and the well-being of local human communities. Our organization is well positioned to bring our expertise across multiple conservation disciplines, to address evolving challenges faced by wildlife around the globe.”

Dr. Lamberski has demonstrated a leadership role in developing the organization’s Kenya-based conservation initiatives, in addition to her years of service leading the team of veterinarians, nutritionists and scientists working to address the health and welfare of the more than 4,000 animals living at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Dr. Lamberski

has focused her career on the conservation impacts and management of disease in small or fragmented populations. She has participated in field projects that include working with black- footed cats in South Africa, thick-billed parrots in northern Mexico, and desert tortoises in the southwestern United States.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lamberski, Megan Owen, Ph.D., will step into the newly created role of corporate director of wildlife conservation science, leading the conservation science teams at San Diego Zoo Global under this newly combined structure. Dr. Owen has a long history leading collaborative conservation research efforts working to overcome challenges facing giant pandas, polar bears, elephants and great apes. Her extensive experience working internationally to create effective responses to conservation challenges has allowed her to make important contributions to the survival of numerous species. Owen will be replacing Allison Alberts, Ph.D., who is retiring in September after many years of leadership at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, expanding conservation efforts on an international scale.

“Dr. Alberts’ leadership of our conservation science teams over the past 15 years has led to saving critically endangered species, while building a team of world-class research scientists who have raised the reputation of San Diego Zoo Global, and set us on the path to build on the legacy of Dr. Kurt Benirschke’s vision,” said Baribault. “Today, we evolve our conservation efforts to meet the growing needs of wildlife in the 21st century, and broaden our integrated approach to conserving wildlife.”

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to over 1 billion people annually, reaching 150 countries via social media, our websites and the San Diego Zoo Kids network, in children’s hospitals in 12 countries. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible with support from our incredible donors committed to saving species from the brink of extinction.