Daniel Cueva


Latino (Ecuadorian/ Puerto Rican)

Current position: 

Education Specialist in Conservation Leadership

Current facility:

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Year zoo career began:

Daniel Cueva is a native South Floridian, and originates from a small town in Florida called "Miami" (a true cultural melting pot). Daniel started his academic career at Florida International University, where he received his Biology B.S. before continuing his education at the University of Florida's graduate certificate in aquaculture & fish health. During his time in Florida, he worked on invasive herpetology research, and has been involved with several noteworthy publications in the subject matter. His thirst for knowledge never ended, so he decided to pursue a Biology M.S. in New Mexico, where he studied anaconda phylogeography. It was during that time when he travelled to the llanos of Venezuela to capture anacondas, and his profile photo is from that expedition.

Throughout Daniel's professional career, he has worn many hats, both literally and figuratively. He started his captive husbandry career as a freshwater aquarist at the Oklahoma Aquarium, while simultaneously working as a Paddlefish biologist intern with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). His AZA start was at Brookfield Zoo as a seasonal Herp keeper, before landing a full time herp keeper position at Ellen Trout Zoo in Texas.

Currently, Daniel is employed at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden as the Education Specialist in Conservation Leadership. And while his role at the zoo does not involve any direct reptile husbandry (his passion), he uses his position to foster compassion & conservation to the youth programs he overseas. Daniel is an advocate to all minority groups and would love to see more minorities in the AZA & STEM communities. Daniel is actively involved with several herpetological conservation organizations, as well as citizen-science based programs in South Carolina.

His favorite quote comes from anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." He has used these words to inspire his actions in his daily life.