Behavior Husbandry Manager – San Diego Zoo
Nicki chairs the Red Panda Network (RPN) Board of Directors. She is a founding board member of the Association of Professional Wildlife Association (APWE). She is currently an Animal Care Manager of the San Diego Zoo and has worked for the Zoological Society of San Diego for 18 years. She has trained exotic animals for over 20 years and is a graduate of Moorpark’s Teaching Zoo as well as Mesa Colleges Veterinary Technician Program, and has an Associate in Science degree; she recently obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Nicki has worked in a variety of areas within the San Diego Zoo including Collection Husbandry Science, Behavior Management, Veterinary Services, volunteer at Conservation and Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES), an internship at the Wild Animal Parks Veterinary Service Department and of course 9 years as a zoo keeper in the Children’s Zoo and 3 years as Team Area Lead and 5 years as Animal Care Supervisor. She now sets up training programs for the Collection Husbandry Science Department at the San Diego Zoo as well as protocols for carnivores, primates, hoofstock, various birds, herbivores and reptiles. She also manages the personnel needs for over 100 employees of the San Diego Zoo’s mammal department. She was selected to help write the curriculum with other training specialist for the AAZK/AZA keeper training course at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She trains educators and keepers to handle exotic animals and perform educational programs. She also performed internships at the Los Angeles Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo and Sea World. Her professional affiliations include AZA, AAZK, ABMA, APWE and RPN.
Convener of the Red Panda GSMP (Global Species Management Plan)
Angela joined the board of RPN in 2014. She is a trained zoologist with a strong interest in animal behavior, in particular the impact of environmental factors on reproduction and maternal behavior. She got her PhD on behavior and reproduction in mouse lemurs from University College London.
Angela joined Rotterdam Zoo in the late 1970s as a research biologist later becoming curator of mammals (hoofstock and primates) and finally, conservation coordinator. She retired from the zoo in 2015 and is now working to establish a new zoo-based conservation organization. Throughout her time in Rotterdam Zoo, Angela was involved with red pandas; she has conducted research into their behavior, established an international studbook to register all zoo red pandas, led the red panda European Endangered Species Program (EEP) for many years and is currently chairing the Red Panda GSMP.
She has also worked with the IUCN-SSC (International Union for Conservation of Nature – Species Survival Commission) and CITES (International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) on behalf of red pandas. She has also edited two books on red pandas: “Red Panda Biology” and “Red Panda – The Biology and Conservation of the First Panda”
Angela has been a supporter of RPN since its inception and has encouraged many European zoos to support RPN’s work.
Program Officer – IUCN SCC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group
Kristin Leus lives and works in Belgium but is Program Officer for the European Regional Network of the IUCN SCC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), hosted by Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark. It is CBSG’s mission to save threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide. It does this by harnessing a global network of conservation professionals to develop and disseminate innovative and interdisciplinary science-based tools and methodologies, to provide culturally sensitive and respectful facilitation resulting in conservation strategies and action plans, to foster contributions of the ex situ community to species conservation and to promote global partnerships and collaborations. Kristin mostly develops computer models of animal populations as component parts of both in situ and ex situ species management plans and facilitates species conservation planning workshops. In addition, she is also population management advisor for the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and in this capacity provides population management expertise and training to EAZA’s committees and ex situ programme managers.
Kristin became involved with red pandas in 2004 when she facilitated the second edition of the Global Captive Breeding Masterplan for Red Panda and did the population biological analysis of the world captive population. At this meeting, the idea grew to hold a series Population and Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA – a species conservation planning process) for red panda and together with colleagues from CBSG South Asia and CBSG HQ in the US, Kristin facilitated the Red Panda Pre-PHVA workshop in India (2007) and the Red Panda PHVAs in Nepal (2010), China (2012) and India (2013). In 2012 she also facilitated workshop for the Global Captive Masterplan and for the creation of the Red Panda Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) under the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and as part of that carried out a new analysis of the global captive red panda population. All of this was more than sufficient to make capture her heart and mind for this wonderful species.
Heather Merriam is a non-profit executive with over twenty years of experience in international and domestic non-profit organizations and companies. Most recently, she was Executive Director of Rotaplast, a medical non-profit that brings smiles to children’s faces all over the world. Heather was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal from 1985 to 1988, and is conversant in Nepali. In 2007-8, she traveled to Nepal three times to consult on a project that helped Nepali mothers deliver their children safely at home.
As an avid eco-tourist, Heather has been blessed to be able to visit some spectacular destinations, such as Chitwan National Park (in the Terai Region of Nepal), the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon jungle in Ecuador, Madagascar, and the Serengeti plain of Kenya. She is excitedly planning her next trip to Nepal to look for the Red Pandas. As a fellow red head, Heather is thrilled to be a board member of the Red Panda Network, and looks forward to helping RPN make new friends and grow support.
Principal – Sapere Environmental, Inc
Jerry is a conservation ecologist and regulatory specialist. He is the founder and Principal of Sapere Environmental and an associate biologist with the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Jerry has over 15 years of experience in field biology, environmental consulting and endangered species management. He has conducted field research on snow leopards and worked with community-based conservation programs in the Himalaya Mountains in Ladakh, India; co-developing a methodology to non-invasively monitor snow leopards in the field. His research interests encompass mammalian conservation, carnivore ecology, non-invasive monitoring techniques, endangered species and environmental resource management, environmental education and environmental policy. Jerry is an amateur wildlife photographer and enjoys volunteering with the Wildlife Conservation Network, Wild Cat Education and Conservation Fund and New Leaf Collaborative.
Real Estate Investor
Noam is the Treasurer of the Board and is a graduate in Finance from Yeshiva University, New York, New York. His background includes working in structured finance at Merrill Lynch and trading technology stocks at Schonfeld Securities. He is currently a real estate investor and is the founder of a real estate business that owns and manages properties in Indiana, Florida, and California. He is passionate about the world’s forests and preserving them for years to come.
Editor, Critical Asian Studies
Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology, George Washington University
Lecturer, Smithsonian Journeys
Robert has a long history in Asia. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Nepal from 1985 to 1987, he taught for three years at a United Nations educational training institute in Beijing, China, and worked for two years on a South-South technical training project in Java, Indonesia jointly sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and the government of Indonesia. He also lived in Taiwan for two years and has traveled extensively in the region, as a tourist, researcher, director of university field school programs, and lecturer for the Smithsonian Journeys program. He has written about the political, economic, and social effects of cultural heritage policies in China, the relationship between anthropology, tourism, and heritage in Bali and Tibet, and the role of social relationships and community norms among street vendors in Washington, DC.
Two of the most significant changes he has witnessed in the region, particularly in China, are the growing attention given by state authorities to environmental concerns and the remarkable shift towards a concern for animal welfare in popular attitudes in China towards animals. This shift is why he has joined RPN, as he believes there is great potential for raising awareness in China about the challenges red pandas face in their native areas.
Regional Representative Asia – Wildlife Works Carbon LLC
Brian’s first walk into the steep, terraced mid-hills of Nepal inspired him to want to take action in preserving the remaining forests in eastern Nepal. As a community education resource volunteer (CERV) in Peace Corps Nepal, he was a catalyst for the founding of four environmental youth groups which spawned several community leaders. In order to learn more about international conservation, Brian extended his Peace Corps service and transferred to Guatemala to work at a wildlife refuge operated by The Nature Conservancy. While working in Guatemala, he recognized the pivotal role of science in long-term conservation, so in 2000, he enrolled in San Jose State University’s Environmental Studies graduate program. To complete a master’s degree as a Fulbright Scholar, Brian conducted research on the status of the red panda in the Ilam region of Nepal’s Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung corridor. These experiences reinforced his conviction that conservation can be achieved only with long-term commitment. Brian founded and managed Red Panda Network from 2005 to September 2011, when he transitioned to work as Regional Representative Asia for Wildlife Works, our partner for preparing a REDD project that can generate long-term funding from carbon offsets. Brian continues to work on the RPN board of directors to capitalize on promises made to a community and region that has captivated his spirit.