Home / Blog / News / Zoo Update from Zoo CEO and Director Denise M. Verret – June 2023

Zoo Update from Zoo CEO and Director Denise M. Verret – June 2023

Although the white stripes of an okapi’s legs may look like a zebra’s, its reddish brown torso is a hint that it’s actually a member of the giraffe family. Photo by Jamie Pham.

As we hit the halfway point of 2023, I’m thrilled about what the L.A. Zoo has accomplished thus far, and I am excited to see what lies ahead for us this summer and beyond. Spring proved itself as a season of rebirth and growth as the Zoo saw a bountiful breeding season, including some births of endangered species. As we transition to the summer, the Zoo is focused on expanding our impact in the community and on connecting more Angelenos to nature. 

With the 2023 California condor egg laying season finished, I can proudly say we had a record 20 eggs laid, which is a testament to the tenacity and ingenuity of the Zoo’s condor team in saving this species from extinction. As our condor team continues to care for both the hatchlings and yet-to-be-hatched eggs, I look forward to providing you with a future update on the chick season and progress of the Zoo’s collaborative efforts in the California Condor Recovery Program. 

The Zoo debuted a beautiful new male koala joey on May 3–Wild Koala Day! Born in August 2022, the joey spent several months developing inside its mother Maya’s pouch before emerging late this spring. You may see this joey inside the Zoo’s Australia habitat with Maya, as he explores, rests on Maya’s lap, and eats eucalyptus leaves. We also welcomed four bighorn sheep lambs over the course of several weeks; that’s a lot of cuteness in the bighorn sheep habitat! With so many new births and hatchings this spring season, Angelenos will have more animals to learn from and connect to while visiting their Zoo this summer.

The Zoo’s Equity Program Division welcomes back its second cohort of paid interns as part of this summer’s Paid Internship Program in June. Over the course of ten weeks, 18 paid college interns, representing the City’s systemically excluded identities, will work with staff from our Conservation and Learning & Engagement teams on real-world projects to jumpstart their exposure to zoo careers and experience at an AZA-accredited facility. This is one part of a larger movement for the Zoo’s continued commitment to equitably engage the diverse communities that make up Los Angeles.

Connecting Angelenos with nature doesn’t stop here at our Zoo. Starting in June, the Zoo’s Learning & Engagement Division will be visiting four Los Angeles Public Library branch locations a week, hosting a series of fun and interactive programs focusing on nature in Los Angeles. Over the course of the summer, Learning & Engagement will visit a total of 35 branches, providing the community with engaging information on the biodiversity of Los Angeles and giving library patrons a one-of-a-kind Zoo bookmark with a built-in seed packet for planting. 

Zoo Camp is back in full swing this summer, starting mid-June and running through mid-August. Campers aged pre-K to sixth grade will have the opportunity to learn, observe, and engage during a variety of educational programming hosted by the Zoo’s Learning & Engagement Division. Classes range from courses like “Down on the Farm,” where pre-K and kindergarten-aged children get up close and personal with the Zoo’s barnyard animals at Muriel’s Ranch, all the way to “Expedition Jaguar,” which is a course designed to enrich fifth- and sixth-grade students in the biodiversity and culture of the Rainforest of the Americas. 

The Zoo has accomplished so much already this year, and I look forward to celebrating more successes together this summer as we prepare for a new and exciting fall season to come. 

Denise M. Verret, Zoo Director and CEO Photo by Jamie Pham