Director of Ectotherms
San Antonio Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Craig Pelke is the Director of Ectotherms at the San Antonio Zoo where he manages a large and diverse collection of amphibians, reptiles, fish, and aquatic invertebrates. Craig interacts daily with his staff, staff from other departments, and guests that visit the zoo. One of Craig’s daily goals is to work with his staff to improve their professional development and skills while actively working towards the zoo’s conservation goals.
Craig graduated in 1991 from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a double-major in Wildlife Management and Zoology and a minor in Captive Wildlife Management. Craig began his work experience as a paid seasonal keeper at the Racine Zoo and an unpaid intern in the Herpetology Department at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. He worked as a keeper at the Claws ‘n’ Paws Wild Animal Park in Pennsylvania, a keeper at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona, and a keeper and then supervisor at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Craig was hired as a curator at the Virginia Zoo before becoming a curator, now called a director, at the San Antonio Zoo.
Craig’s favorite part of his profession is the animals, but he learned early in his career the importance of people in zoos, including staff and guests. He loves that every day of his job is extremely variable and diverse, and he is never bored with repetitious work. His favorite species is the Komodo dragon, as they’re like living dinosaurs and are charismatic and highly intelligent. Craig is fortunate to have worked with them since 2012, contributed to the Komodo dragon SSP through captive reproduction and managing the conservation fund, and to have traveled to the Komodo Island National Park to participate in field conservation research. Craig advises aspiring animal care professionals to stay focused and stay hungry to reach your goals and aspirations. Passion is what drives professionals in zoos and aquariums.