In 2000, Jennifer Mickelberg began working with Golden Lion Tamarins at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. When she moved from there to Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Ga., to become the senior director of collections and conservation in July 2012, she brought not only the Golden Lion Tamarin international studbook with her, but years of training and guidance from Jonathan Ballou, her predecessor and mentor. “I had a nice twelve-year overlap with Jon” she said. “That made the transition much easier.”
Jonathan Ballou may have already passed the golden lion tamarin “torch” to the next generation, but there are other long-time coordinators who are still pondering the “how-to” of succession. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) initiated its signature Species Survival Plan® (SSP) programs in the 1980s. The success of these programs—measured in part by maintaining healthy populations of animals in a zoo and, in some cases, reintroducing them back into the wild—is largely due to early leaders. With no instruction book and feeling their way, these men and women created the SSPs from scratch and fostered the relationships necessary to sustain them. Now, thirty years down the road, these SSPs are complex programs with many moving parts, and these pioneers are considering how to pass on their institutional memory, their years of experience and, perhaps most importantly, their personal relationships.
Art at the Zoo (Members Only)
Operation Twiga—Zoos Supporting Rothschild’s Giraffe Conservation (Members Only)
On the Cover
Rothschild’s Giraffe © Tim Lewthwaite
Contribute to Connect
Advertise in Connect