Inspector of the Year: Animal Management and Husbandry

John Davis, Director of Animal Care and Welfare, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

John Davis is the Director of Animal Care and Welfare at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. Throughout his 30-year career, John has dedicated his expertise, energy, and passion to caring for and managing a diverse collection of animals, delivering the highest standards of care with a strong emphasis on animal training and exhibit design. John is committed to educating  people about the challenges facing our natural world and empowering them to protect it.

A graduate of Kansas State University, John obtained a degree in wildlife biology and began his zoo career as an intern at Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas. He later accepted a keeper position at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, where he went on to serve as the Curator of Mammals, a position he held for nearly 15 years.

An AZA member since 1987, John has contributed by serving as an Institutional Representative (IR) for numerous TAGs/SSPs and as a member of the AZA Honors and Awards Committee. He is currently the Program Leader and Studbook Keeper for  river hippopotamus and a steering committee member for both the Elephant TAG/SSP and the Hippo, Peccary, Pig and Tapir TAG.

John has served as an AZA accreditation inspector since 2012, routinely performing two inspections each year. He strongly believes that AZA’s rigorous accreditation process is paramount to ensuring the highest standards in all aspects of animal care and operations, with the ultimate goal of inspiring zoo guests to care for and conserve precious and irreplaceable wildlife and wild places. 


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