Animal Keeper, Research Department
Los Angeles Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Jill Werner currently works at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens where she is an animal keeper in the research department. In her current position, she designs and completes studies that look at many aspects of animal welfare and behavior in the zoo collection. Jill and her team determine what they should study, design the study, collect data, analyze data, and then determine what courses of action to take based on the results. Jill works with keepers and species throughout the zoo. Jill is also a member of the zoo’s emergency firearm team, which means she is trained and ready to respond to any dangerous animal escape or emergency. Jill has also been on the board for her local chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers for 10 years.
Jill has held many different animal related jobs in her long career, which began in 1985 when she obtained an associate degree in Equine Science. Her first paid position was at Six Flags Magic Mountain, where she cared for, trained, and performed in shows with a variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Jill competed two unpaid internships, one at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with elephants and giraffes and one at Marine World Africa USA with the Lion and Tiger show. Jill also earned an associate degree from Pierce College in 1989 in Animal/ Equine Science and a degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College in 1992. Jill worked with Marine World Africa USA after college, first with camels, giraffes, and white rhinoceroses, and then with elephants. Jill has also managed veterinary hospitals, and she completely an RVT program. Jill has trained dogs from the military, police, and private and government projects, and she has trained and handled exotic and domestic animals for feature films, commercials, and print work. In 2007 Jill began working at the Los Angeles Zoo in the Health Center/ Veterinary Hospital. She also worked as a hospital keeper, quarantine keeper, and demand keeper, working primarily with the primate/ carnivore section, before moving to her current position.
Throughout her career, Jill has been touched by specific individual animals throughout her career- the most special connection she ever made was with a howler monkey. Her advice to aspiring animal keepers is to volunteer if possible and try to get your foot in the door. Networking is very important, so talk to employees at a facility you’d like to work for and attend professional conferences. For Jill, everything we do with animals matters so much to their lives, so we need to do the best job possible.