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Steering Committee Member

Ethnicity: Native American (Oneida Tribe)

Current position: Primate Keeper

Current facility: Smithsonian's National Zoo

Year zoo career began: 2018


Carly Hornberger is a Primate Keeper at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo where she works in the Great Ape Department. In her role, Carly works with five species of primates: lemurs, gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, and guenons. Her daily tasks include cleaning, feeding, and preparing enrichment for primates, along with training. Carly views training and enrichment as essential parts of her job because of the advanced intelligence of primates. Training is also her favorite part of her daily tasks because primates are able to learn so many new things. Carly works primarily with gibbons and siamangs, which are her favorite animals in her department. These animals are the only primates considered small apes and they have huge personalities in tiny packages. They have beautiful calls and long, lanky arms that match their goofy personalities.


Carly grew up in the Maryland area and briefly went to art school before studying psychology at the University of Maryland from 2009 to 2014. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Carly moved to California where she worked as a vet technician and later as a research intern at the Los Angeles Zoo. Both of these experiences confirmed to Carly that she wanted to work with animals; however, she also learned that she did not want to be a veterinarian or a researcher. Carly moved back to the DC area in 2018 and decided to gain some experience in zookeeping. She began as a volunteer keeper aide in the Great Ape Department at the National Zoo and within moments of beginning this position she knew that animal keeping was the right fit for her. Carly was a volunteer keeper aide for six months and an intern for six months, both in the Great Ape Department, before being hired as an animal keeper in the same area.


One of Carly’s favorite projects in her career working with animals was her internship project at the Great Ape Department of the National Zoo, where she studied various olfactory responses in lemurs in response to different enrichment. Some of Carly’s role models include Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, who contributed so much to the knowledge of primate species, and Michelle Obama- all three are strong, powerful women. In her free time, Carly is a huge Disney fan, and her favorite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid.

Head back to The Network to learn about other AMZAP members.

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