Cat Ambassador Program, Lead Trainer
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Year zoo career began:
Linda Castañeda is a Cat Ambassador Program, Lead Trainer at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. In her current job, she manages the ambassador program where she works with cheetahs, ocelots, servals, domestic cats and dogs, an African crested porcupine and, a red river hog. Linda is a firm believer in sharing knowledge and promoting growth. She serves in the Felid TAG as Cheetah SSP Education Advisor and Fishing Cat SSP Education Advisor as well as on the Animal Ambassador SAG as a General Member. Through her work with the Fishing Cat SSP Linda began to collaborate with fishing cat conservationists from around the globe and she is a board member of the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance, a global network of educators, fundraisers and conservationists that work to secure fishing cat habitat and promote coexistence in fishing cat range countries.
Linda was born & raised in California where she grew up in the concrete jungles of East LA. She was inspired by watching David Attenborough, but she was not exposed to nature much during her childhood, though she did always have cats. During her college years studying Biology at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, her passion for wild things and wild places took hold. After college, Linda started her Biology career in field conversation stalking nesting songbirds in the lodgepole pine forests of Eastern Oregon and then chasing hornbills and primates in the Dja Reserve in southern Cameroon. She decided to meld her passions for conservation and animal care and started to look into zoos as her next career move. Linda attended Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) Program to gain experience working hands-on with animals. She spent a summer working with the Cat Ambassador Team at the Cincinnati Zoo then moved to Chicago to work with the Education and Animal Teams at Lincoln Park Zoo. In 2007 she returned to the Cincinnati Zoo where she currently manages the Cat Ambassador Program. Linda’s animal coworkers include cheetahs, ocelots, servals, domestic cats and dogs, an African crested porcupine and, a red river hog.
Linda returned to school and was the first graduating class of Miami University of Ohio’s Global Field Program (GFP) where she earned a M.A. in Zoology in 2011. Linda focused her time in the GFP on African conservation and after graduation she remained in the Miami family facilitating courses. She has taught Animal Behavior and Conservation in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) and has facilitated the GFP Earth Expeditions course to Namibia various times. Linda also spent 10 years teaching freshman Biology courses for the University of Cincinnati, including Ecology, Diversity and Animal Behavior.