Year zoo career began:
Daniel Marzluf is a Behavior Technician at Chimp Haven. He works primarily with chimpanzees retired from research. Daniel was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, and moved to the United States with his family when he was 18. As a minority living in a foreign country, he faced many challenges such as overcoming the language barrier, financial struggles, and discrimination.
When Daniel moved to the U.S. and started college, he chose Communication as his major to set a more “realistic” career path. In Bolivia, careers within the Biology or Wildlife Conservation fields are either scarce or non-existent. For that reason, his dream of working with animals was simply that - a dream. It wasn’t until his Sophomore year of college that he realized he always had a passion for wildlife. That’s why, thanks to the overwhelming support of family and friends, he made the bold decision to switch his major to Biology. This decision came with its own challenges including transferring to- and affording - a four-year university (since he was previously in community college) as well as building his animal care experience.
Daniel gained some experience working with domestic animals for a while but then began volunteering at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo at the Great Ape House where he quickly fell in love with the gorillas and orangutans. Daniel also had an internship at the National Aquarium where he was able to witness the complexity of training dolphins. In an enrichment internship at the Small Mammal House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Daniel learned about the many benefits that enrichment can have on animal welfare. He consolidated his passion for great apes when he got his first paid position as a caregiver aide at Project Chimps sanctuary in Georgia.
When Daniel looks back at his path to his current position, he realizes that all those challenges and obstacles were just temporary and necessary for him to be who he is now. If anyone is struggling with situations like Daniel’s, he encourages you to keep pushing forward. With the right mindset and the right people by your side, you are unstoppable!