After 30 years of dedication to the welfare and conservation of animals both in managed care and in the wild, no one can argue that Colleen Kinzley isn’t committed. As the vice president of animal care, conservation, and research at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif, she is tireless when it comes to advocating and taking action to further the Zoo’s mission of inspiring respect for and stewardship of the natural world.
She came to Oakland Zoo during difficult times; well before it became recognized for outstanding animal care and recipient of multiple awards—and she was much of the reason the latter came to be.
Overseeing the entire animal care staff, the Zoo’s conservation department, and always there to support and collaborate with all Zoo departments, she has earned the admiration and respect of all those at Oakland Zoo and beyond. She leads, and gives her staff the opportunity to lead, education based eco-tours for wildlife conservation globally.
When a rescued animal is brought to the Zoo from the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Colleen is there to assist the Veterinary Hospital team, at any hour of the day. And when anti-Zoo groups come forth, Colleen’s compassion, character, and authenticity is able to change their hearts and minds.
When Oakland Zoo, along with the rest of the world, fell upon difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic, Colleen did not falter. Faced with staff cutbacks in hours, slashed budgets, and precautionary health measures that made animal care more challenging than ever, Colleen again ‘stepped up’ to get the job done to the highest standard possible. She filled in for her staff in animal care, no job being too small, too big—and well beyond an eight-hour workday, seven days a week. In fact, even with her unrelenting schedule, she rallied her animal care department to fully support—with substantial time and energy—fundraising and marketing initiatives to benefit the Zoo’s alternative revenue efforts. It paid off.
Colleen’s commitment is abundantly clear first-hand, and her leadership is reflected in the dedication, passion, and character of her staff—and the entirety of Oakland Zoo.
Photo: Colleen Kinzley (left) assisting Dr. Herman, vice president of veterinary Services with a wild mountain lion cub rescue brought to Oakland Zoo by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Credit: © Oakland Zoo