Dr. Erika Bauer
Director, Animal Wellbeing
“I am thrilled to work at AZA and thankful for the opportunity to have a far-reaching positive impact on the wellbeing of animals in zoos and aquariums. I am passionate about animal welfare science and committed to providing tools and resources that help to ensure all animals thrive in our care.”
Erika is responsible for implementing AZA’s Strategic Framework for the Wellbeing of Animals, and engaging with the AZA community on initiatives related to animal welfare and wellbeing. She manages the publication of AZA Animal Care Manuals and Ambassador Animal Guidelines, supports the AZA Accreditation Commission in the review of standards related to animal wellbeing, and oversees the development of AZA’s animal care and wellbeing grant program.
20+ years of experience in the zoo field informs Erika’s perspective on animal wellbeing. She has served in many of the key roles that directly impact the lives of zoo animals, including zookeeper, curator, researcher, and welfare inspector. Her animal management expertise is with Asian carnivores (specifically sloth bears, giant pandas, clouded leopards, fishing cats, Asian small-clawed otters, and red pandas), and her behavioral research projects have included those species as well as chimpanzees, bonobos, elephants, giant Pacific octopus, and cuttlefish, among others.
Erika has a PhD and MS in Biopsychology (focused on animal behavior) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a BS in Biology from John Carroll University.
Zoo & Aquarium Experience:
For 15 years, Erika worked at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., first as the Zoo’s Curatorial Resident, and then primarily with the Asia Trail/Giant Panda unit. Prior to that she studied bonobos at Columbus Zoo and chimpanzees at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and worked as a Research Assistant in the Science & Conservation Department at Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.