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Proof that passion can be turned into a fulfilling career!



Asheigh Lutz-Nelson (left) and Marcia Sivek (right) on location at SF Zoo. Photo Credit : Patricia Dennis Photography

Meet Ashleigh Lutz- Nelson, Assistant Curator of Carnivores at the San Francisco Zoo! In this podcast Ashleigh talks about how she fell in love with carnivores, specifically cats at a young age and knew she wanted to always work with animals. She discusses her journey of wanting to be a veterinarian to changing her mind and wanting to work more with wildlife conservation and animal behavior. She volunteered with veterinary staff at Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park in Tampa, Florida and fell in love with the wildlife rehabilitation part of the work. Her path changed to become a keeper at Busch Gardens. She also assisted with ambassador animals on Wildlife Docs and on shows such as the Today Show to educate people about wildlife, their behavior and importance to our world.


Ashleigh fills us in on her role at the zoo as Assistant Curator of Carnivores and the zoo's role in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and breeding. She has 13 carnivore species under her care at the zoo and talks about their roles in field conservation.


Ashleigh's story is an excellent example of turning passion into a fulfilling career. Inspiration for all of us, young and old, who love wildlife and want to contribute. She is very passionate and it gives me hope that she, and many others like her are helping to save these animals and share their stories with the world.


Special THANK YOU to: Ashleigh and her staff for showing us around the zoo, Patricia Dennis Photography for taking photographs and recording videos of the interview and to Josanne Virene for her love of animals and support and assistance throughout the day.


Highlight Markers in Audio (approx. locations in audio):

2:30 - Ashleigh begins discussion on her path to vet school then as a keeper

12:58 - Discussion on Citizen Action for Tigers and Realm of the Tiger project (citizen science projects for anyone to get involved in Malaysia).

15:40 - Her beginnings at SF Zoo

16:25 - Conservation work being done at SF Zoo

18:30 - Breeding Programs happening at SF Zoo

22.49 - Definition of her role as Curator

25:00 - Snow leopard discussion


Here is the audio podcast :






Video Clips of our interview taken on Patricia Dennis' cell phone:






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