LA Zoo Hosts a World Class Animal Collection & Receives Celebrity Endorsements from an Eclectic Pair

I had the good fortune to volunteer in the animal care department at the LA Zoo when I wasn’t focused on my late career as a professional student.

As a former zoo animal keeper the opportunity provided me with a chance to brush up on my husbandry skills while working along side zoo professionals at the Griffith Park facility. It’s a terrific zoo and big one.

Abyssinian ground hornbill (Nat Geo Archives)

Grateful for the chance to work with one of North America’s most heterogenous and impressive captive wildlife collections, I encountered some fairly rare hoof stock species that I had only seen in photographs or at one or two other zoological parks. These animal ambassadors included Chinese water deer, okapi, anoa, Japanese serow, takin, Calamian deer, markhor, Chinese goral and several other ungulate species that call the LA Zoo home.

I also have to put in a plug for the Zoo’s world-class bird show. The cast included more than just your everyday raptor or psittacine.  As I recall the Zoo exhibited three species of hornbill and a pair of Abyssinian ground hornbills were featured in the program.  The bird show was captivating, well-choreographed, and highly educational and entertaining.

It would seem to me that only near Hollywood would it be appropriate to assemble such an eclectic assortment of wildlife ambassadors and program animals.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Zoo recruited just as unusual a pair to participate in a promotional commercial for its new L.A.I.R. exhibit for ectotherms.  To promote the exhibit Gun’s N Roses guitarist Slash and 90-year-old comedic sensation Betty White joined up to film the promotion.

The Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles facility will open later this year and will provide new homes for the Zoo’s current reptile collection–one of the rarest in North America–and an assortment of other cold-blooded creatures.  In total, the exhibit will display approximately 60 species of animals.



Meet the Author
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: