San Diego Zoo names new conservation officer for global wildlife efforts

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego Zoo Global announced Thursday it has appointed Dr. Nadine Lamberski to the newly created role of chief conservation and wildlife health officer, leading a unified team of conservation scientists and wildlife veterinarians to develop a strategic approach to the zoo’s conservation efforts.

“San Diego Zoo Global is preparing to meet the future challenges of wildlife,” said Paul A. Baribault, president/CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “As a leader in wildlife health, we have a responsibility to ensure our conservation efforts incorporate comprehensive and collaborative strategies that lead to meaningful outcomes for wildlife. By combining our conservation science teams with our wildlife health teams, we are building the wildlife conservation organization of the future — and empowering it to effectively develop full-spectrum conservation strategies.”

San Diego Zoo Global has been exploring collaborations with community- led conservation efforts, attempting to integrate across disciplines to address the health of wildlife, ecosystems and human communities.

“We know that human health is tied to the health of wildlife, and to the health of our planet,” Lamberski said. “This is clearer now — more than ever before. We have been inspired by our partners in Kenya, who have successful conservation initiatives that foster coexistence with wildlife and build sustainable populations of species in a holistic fashion — improving the welfare of wildlife, the condition of the grasslands and the well-being of local human communities.”

“Our organization is well positioned to bring our expertise across multiple conservation disciplines, to address evolving challenges faced by wildlife around the globe,” she said.

Lamberski helped develop the organization’s Kenya conservation initiatives, in addition to her years of service leading the team of veterinarians, nutritionists and scientists working to address the health and welfare of the more than 4,000 animals living at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. She has focused her career on the conservation impacts and management of disease in small or fragmented populations, including participation in field projects such as with black-footed cats in South Africa, thick-billed parrots in northern Mexico and desert tortoises in the southwestern United States.

Megan Owen will step into the new role of corporate director of wildlife conservation science, leading the conservation science teams at San Diego Zoo Global under this newly combined structure. Owen has a long history leading collaborative conservation research efforts working to overcome challenges facing giant pandas, polar bears, elephants and great apes.

Owen will be replacing Allison Alberts, who is retiring in September after years at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, expanding conservation efforts on an international scale.

The work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.

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