Meet the Executive VP of Animal Health: Gary West at the Phoenix Zoo

Gary West is the Executive Vice President of Animal Health at the Phoenix Zoo.

Describe your job? As the Executive Vice President of Animal Health and Collections I oversee a staff of 100 amazing and dedicated professionals including curators, keepers, and the veterinary staff of the Phoenix Zoo as well as more than 1,100 animals, including 200 of which are endangered or threatened species.

How long have you been in your position? Two years. I started at the Phoenix Zoo in the summer of 2010.

What in your background helped you get the position? Education and experience are both crucial things that have helped me develop my career. I obtained my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and the following year I started working with non-domestic animals. I became board certified in Zoological Medicine 10 years ago and that was a significant professional accomplishment. I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked with many dedicated and supportive zoo professionals in my 15 year zoo career. This experience has helped me learn many things about animal care, management, and conservation in AZA accredited zoos. 

What is your favorite thing about your job? My favorite thing is constantly learning new things. I also really enjoy my co-workers and the professional discussions that we have everyday. I enjoy the challenges of providing health care to a wide variety of non-domestic animals. 

Describe a favorite memory/experience in your current position: Traveling to the country of Jordan and helping to foster a relationship between the Royal Society of Conservation of Nature and the Phoenix Zoo. Both institutions are working on the conservation of the Arabian Oryx.

Do you have a favorite animal? Why is it your favorite? Very difficult question, that is why I love zoos, I get to work with a wide variety of species and I don’t have to pick a favorite!

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