(New Orleans, La.) – Audubon Nature Institute welcomes Michelle Hatwood as the Animal Curator of the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center. Hatwood comes to Audubon with more than ten years of practical experience in a variety of animal species, with an emphasis in large hoofstock.
Hatwood will assist General Curator Joel Hamilton in managing the animals and personnel of the entire Animal Department at the Species Survival Center, including the new Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife, a partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global. This program will be a one-of-a-kind resource for zoos and aquariums to rebuild animal collections that are in danger of disappearing. It will be a haven for more than two dozen mammal and bird species that have declining populations.
“Michelle’s background and experience working with a variety of ungulates (hoofed mammals) will be an asset to Audubon, particularly, as we develop the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife collection in conjunction with San Diego Zoo Global.'' Hamilton said. "We look forward to utilizing her experience in the creation of successful reproductive programs for these sensitive species, such as bongo and giraffe.”
Hatwood began her career in 2003 as an animal keeper at Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, Fla. Later, she was an extern for White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fla., and the Senior Hoofstock Keeper at Birmingham Zoo from 2005 until 2008. She has spent the past five years with the Phoenix Zoo, managing their hoofstock collection and overseeing multiple staff members.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to have an important role in the new Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife at the Species Survival Center,'' Hatwood said. "Audubon and San Diego have always been leaders in species conservation; I think this new initiative will not only continue the path towards sustainable populations of endangered species, but will also be an example of how AZA facilities can collaborate on a grander scale. I can feel the anticipation of amazing things to come."
Hatwood is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan Coordinator for Arabian Onyx, a professional member with the Ungulate Taxon Advisory Group and a member of the Ungulate Taxon Advisory Group Marketing Team.