Meet the Director of Animal Collections: Connie Philipp at the Nashville Zoo

Connie Philipp, Director of Animal Collections at the Nashville Zoo.  Copyright Nashville Zoo.  Describe your job:

I am currently the Director of Animal Collections at the Nashville Zoo. I essentially oversee the animal care, veterinary and education staff’s. While my career started with the care of animals only, now I have the care of many people who care for the animals.

How long have you been in the position?

I have been in my current position for 8.5 years. I have been in the zoological industry for 24 years.

What in your background helped you get the job?

My education with a degree in wildlife biology essentially got my foot in the door, but working on horse farms, working for large animal veterinarians and volunteering at a zoo definitely made me a viable candidate for my first job. Being involved in specialized training programs, growing my career and experience at different zoos, being involved in AZA programs all contributed to my ability to be promoted to my current position. 

What’s your favorite thing about job?

It used to be the successes I had in animal training and in husbandry. Now it is the success I have living vicariously through the staff that I train and oversee. I love seeing people being able to continue successfully in animal care and training. Creating sustainability for the animals!

Describe a favorite memory/experience in your current position:

Helping get Nashville Zoo accredited for the first time.

Do you have a favorite animal? Why is it your favorite?

When you spend so many years working with fabulous animals it is hard to choose. From my past I have a huge favorite in a chimp I worked with. She was amazingly intelligent, even more than the others she was housed with and was wonderful to work with and train. My current situation has me working with clouded leopards more than ever in my career, and there is a pair that I have bonded with because they are so trusting of me to the point I can work with their cubs while with the parents. Pretty cool!

Tim Lewthwaite

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