Written by Houston Zoo Director Rick Barongi.
In a few months, Corinne Kendall should be getting her PhD. from the department of conservation and evolutionary biology at Princeton University. Then this very gifted and dedicated individual will devote the rest of her career to wildlife conservation.
Why she chose this career path is probably due to a variety of early life experiences with animals and nature. If you ask her which of these experiences had the most impact, she would rank her early zoo visits and subsequent volunteer work at the Houston Zoo at or near the top.
In Corinne’s case she was also blessed with parents that recognized and encouraged her passion for working with wildlife. Our zoo provided the perfect opportunity for young people to engage with wildlife, and Corinne took full advantage. As soon as she was old enough she became a teen Zoo Crew member and then went on to a volunteer keeper position followed by a seasonal internship during her summer vacations from Cornell University, where she was a straight A student.
Corinne went on to Columbia University to get her Master’s in Conservation Biology before settling on Princeton for her PhD. work studying vultures in East Africa.
While no one can scientifically prove that visiting and volunteering at a good zoo can change people’s lives, there is no denying that good zoos can connect people with animal in ways that no computer, video or HD documentary can duplicate. Corinne Kendall is living proof of the power that good zoos can have on young minds and hearts.
The Houston Zoo is more than a fun place to see animals. It is a living classroom that inspires and connects us to the natural world. It is also a training ground for future Conservation Heroes like Corinne.
Watch and enjoy this fascinating short video of Corinne Kendall’s field work with vultures in the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya, East Africa.