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Meet Dr. Kimberly Terrell: 5 questions with our new Director of Research and Conservation

Cue the trumpets! The Memphis Zoo is excited to welcome Dr. Kimberly Terrell as our new Director of Research and Conservation! She will be in charge of fulfilling the Zoo’s mission of advancing research, conservation and education for threatened wildlife and wild places. Talk about a fun job!   

Before coming to the Bluff City in September, Dr. Terrell was a research associate for the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. She spent her time studying a fascinating group of endangered animals, from cheetahs to giant salamanders.     

Dr. Terrell is truly a great addition to our team and very passionate about wildlife and conservation. So, we want you to meet her! We sat down with our newest team member to ask her five questions so you can get to know her better.   

1.     Why is conservation so important to the Memphis Zoo?
The Earth is home to an astonishing diversity of living creatures. If you walk through our Zoo, you will see animals that you’ve probably never heard of, like the cacomistle or the dik-dik. The more time you spend around these fascinating creatures, the more passionate you become about saving them from extinction. With our passion and knowledge of animals, we are in a unique position to make a difference in their fight for survival.   

2.     What is the most unique or interesting experience you have had while working with animals?
The most unique experience I have had while working with animals happened while I was studying cheetahs at a non-profit organization in Botswana (Africa). There were two ‘ambassador’ cheetahs that had been rescued as orphans and were friendly around people. When I started petting one of them, it began to purr. It sounded like a car engine! I never realized that big cats purr just like a house cat, only much louder.   

 3.     What are you most excited about in your new role at the Memphis Zoo?
The Memphis Zoo has many animals that are extremely rare, even within zoological collections. For example, only a small handful of zoos have giant pandas, slender lorises or polar bears, and we have all three! I’m excited about the opportunity to study these rare animals and to help ensure their survival in zoos and in the wild.       

4.     What is one thing that the average person doesn’t know about the Zoo’s role in conservation, but should?
 The Memphis Zoo plays a big role in protecting wildlife in nature. We do this through research, education and captive breeding programs. For example, we’re breeding Louisiana pine snakes – the rarest snake in North America. Every year, we release about 15 young pine snakes from our zoo into the wild. We’re also breeding dusky gopher frogs, one the most endangered animals in the world!   

 5.     If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
I would be an otter because it looks like fun! Otters are full of energy, and they’re one of the most playful animals at the zoo. Whenever I walk past our Asian small-clawed otters, I see them bouncing around, wrestling and tumbling into the water. I wish I could spend my days like that!      

Want to learn more about our efforts in wildlife conservation and research? Click here.  

Posted by Zoo Info at 9:00 AM

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