This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we wanted to introduce you to a few of our Zoo team members and get their insights on their fields. There are so many ways for women and girls to use their science degrees to impact the people and animals around them!
Meet Chelsea Herman, one of our Curators of Animals! To read more of our Women in Science stories, check out this link.
Position with Brevard Zoo: Curator of Animals
Education: Bachelors in Anthropology with a minor in Psychology and a Masters is in Zoo Conservation Biology.
How did you choose your field? I was studying Primatology in college and thought I wanted to enter the research field. I applied for keeper positions to gain more experience with primates and quickly realized that I wanted to stay in the zoological field.
Did or do you have any female mentors or role models in your field? If so, how did they shape your career journey? When I was in college I was fascinated by Jane Goodall and Birute Galdikas. Their passion and drive to succeed in a male dominated field was very inspiring. Every time they hit an obstacle, they just found a way around it. I have been very fortunate in my career and have worked for many amazing female managers and keepers. As I have moved up, I frequently find myself thinking about how they would approach a situation or how they would resolve an issue.
How would you describe your work at the Zoo? I am the curator over the Africa section at the zoo. I oversee the Africa team and how they go about providing care to animals like the giraffe, meerkat, bongo, rhinos and lions. My job focuses a lot on the behind the scenes work like collection planning and working with Species Survival Plan coordinators.
What do you enjoy about your job? Every single day is different.
What are some challenges about your work? This is a very unique field. Zookeepers have to learn how to read the behaviors and body language of dozens of species and be able to appropriately advocate and care for those animals based on their observations.
What advice do you have for girls or women who want to work in your field? Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and create your own opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from everyone around you. If you can figure out the “why” behind decisions you are setting yourself up to be able to make informed decisions of your own later on.
Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.