Careers in Action

Ornithologist

“You need to be able to think critically, while at the same time enjoying scrubbing, or digging or otherwise getting dirty . . . conservation takes brains and . . . not brawn, so much as enjoyment of physical activity.”

Before working at the Bronx Zoo, Chris spent many years studying ecology and evolutionary biology to earn a Ph.D. During her studies she was inspired to focus on conservation biology. As curator of ornithology, Chris is in charge of all the bird species in the exhibits. She determines how to care for the nearly 250 species of birds at the zoo and is responsible for supervising the keepers who care for the birds and maintain their exhibits. In addition, Chris is involved in many projects that help to protect endangered birds in the wild.

As a trainee, Chris spent every day working with birds in the collection. As a curator, she spends more time on administration and planning. Although Chris sometimes misses working directly with the animals in the zoo’s collection, she knows her work helps people understand how wonderful animals are. Each year millions of people come to the Bronx Zoo because they want to do something fun with their families, and along the way, they learn about conservation.