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Zoo Update with CEO and Director Denise M. Verret – October 2023

A black stingray with white dots floats above black pebbles.
Polka-dot stingrays are night hunters. Their tails have venomous spines that can create a painful wound. Photo by Jamie Pham

I’m elated that we are finally entering my favorite time of the year – when autumn rolls around and brings cooler temperatures that mean spending quality time outdoors. I couldn’t think of a more fitting time to share good news from the Zoo and reflect on our transformative journey ahead.

First and foremost, I am delighted to announce the arrival of a new member to our Zoo family – a beautiful tamandua pup! This is the first successful birth our tamandua pair has had, and it is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our Animal Care team. Their hard work and passion for our animals shine brightly, and we couldn’t be more grateful for their efforts.

In addition to our tamandua’s birth, we have had the privilege of welcoming a magnificent greater one-horned rhinoceros to our Zoo from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. He is the first rhino we have cared for in L.A. in more than six years. This awe-inspiring species adds to the diversity of our collection and provides our visitors with an incredible opportunity to learn about and appreciate wildlife as our commitment to conservation and education remains at the forefront of our mission.

These are just a few of the new and exciting additions to our family. The Animal Care team has had a lot to celebrate lately, so be on the lookout for more announcements to come in the near future.

Beyond our Zoo’s boundaries, our herpetology team continues the tradition of a truly remarkable conservation effort right in our own backyard. Last month the team participated in the release of nearly 170 southern mountain yellow-legged frogs bred right here at our Zoo. This initiative, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and other zoological organizations in the region, exemplifies our commitment to protecting and preserving endangered species and their natural habitats.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who attended and participated in the activities surrounding our World Gorilla Day weekend. The weekend highlighted our partnership with GRACE, a gorilla conservation and rehabilitation organization based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our work together is a point of pride for me as it clearly demonstrates how the L.A. Zoo and the animals in our care are indeed helping to save species around the world. Conservation is not done in a vacuum. It requires strong partners, public support, and everyday actions. Our gorilla conservation work continues beyond this wonderful event, and everyone can be a part of it by recycling old cell phones and electronic devices to help reduce the need for mining of minerals used in manufacturing these devices. This simple action can help save gorillas half a world away.

Our success as a Zoo would not be possible without the staff’s passion, expertise, and unwavering commitment to our mission. Together, with our dedicated members and the greater Los Angeles community, we are making a difference for wildlife and in the lives of Angelenos from all backgrounds throughout this wonderful city. I am excited to see where our journey takes us in the seasons to come.

As we embrace the changing season and cooler temperatures of fall, let us also embrace the change and growth that lies ahead for the L.A. Zoo. I am confident that, together, we will achieve great things and continue to be a beacon of hope for the animals we care for and the communities we serve.

Woman standing in front of giraffes
Denise M. Verret, Zoo Director and CEO Photo by Jamie Pham