Rachael Walton


Biracial (Black/ Mexican)

Current position: 

Senior Wildlife Care Specialist

Current facility:

San Diego Zoo

Year zoo career began:

Rachael Walton is a Senior Wildlife Care Specialist at the San Diego Zoo in the Department of Herpetology and Ichthyology. In her current position, she works with a variety of species including Fiji iguanas, radiated tortoises, spider tortoises, palm vipers, tuatara, several species of rattlesnakes, and the zoo’s quarantine facility. Her department set up allows for a lot of collaboration and exposure to different reptile species such as crocodilians, large vipers, and giant tortoises. Rachael is also responsible for some of the venomous training within the department. It is impossible to have a favorite, but Rachael enjoys lizard cuddles from caiman lizards and Grand Cayman blue iguanas.

Rachael cannot remember a time when she did not love reptiles and she feels incredibly fortunate to have her dream job. Rachael attended San Diego State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Rachael has worked in veterinary emergency medicine for over 18 years. This secondary passion helps her feel that she makes a tangible difference in the lives of patients and clients. Her first professional experience was at the San Diego Zoo. Rachael completed some internships which gave her the venomous experience required for the position. Coupled with her veterinary medical background, Rachael was able to have her dream job be her first job. Rachael has worked for the San Diego Zoo in this department for her entire 10-year zoo career.

Outside of work, Rachael enjoys gardening and reading, and she created the first little free library in her neighborhood, inspiring nine of her neighbors to also create free lending libraries. Rachael is also passionate about mentorship and hopes to increase the representation of brown and female faces in herpetology. Rachael provides mentorship through Girls in Science and a program called Zoo Intern Quest while participating in the alumni mentorship program for San Diego State University. Rachael would love to connect and assist anyone in any way she can- reach out to chat about anything!