Youth Program Specialist, W.I.L.D. Team
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
Year zoo career began:
Born in San Diego to a Filipina immigrant mother and an American Sailor, Matt is a California Kid through and through. Raised in a small town in Northern California, Matt spent most of his time out outside; fishing, hiking, swimming, camping, and just exploring.
Matt has always had a love for animals and the great outdoors, so much so that he started volunteering with exotic animals, mostly big cats, in high school and quickly fell in love with zookeeping. He continued volunteering while he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Chico.
While finishing up his undergraduate degree, Matt accepted his first job as a full time keeper at the Honolulu Zoo. While in Honolulu, Matt worked with Asian elephants and orangutans; and went surfing… a lot. After one semester off from school, he decided to go back and earn his Master of Arts degree from Miami University.
From Honolulu, Matt made his way to the Midwest to begin working with a new group of wild rescue African elephants at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. After a few years in Omaha, Matt headed down to Florida to work with a huge variety of birds at Natural Encounters, Inc.
While in grad school, Matt traveled to Belize, Borneo, and Guyana. During grad school Matt realized how much he loved the conservation work of different cultures and communities. This realization prompted him to pursue a job in education and landed him back in the Midwest to work as an Ambassador Animal Keeper at Blank Park Zoo. Three years later, Matt made his way back to the Sunshine State and is currently running the W.I.L.D. Program at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens.
Matt is a people person who happens to work with animals. With that being said one of his career goals is to be in a position dedicated to helping the next generation of conservationists. He aims to help the next generation find their path by assisting with resumes, cover letters, applications, job placements, internships, etc.