Woodland Park Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Carolyn is a multi- award-winning zookeeper at Woodland Park Zoo, including being the 2020 sole recipient of the National AAZK Excellence in Animal Care award in 2020. Research is still being conducted but she is potentially the only Asian to ever win the award.
Carolyn is a Korean Caucasian American that grew up in Hawaii and moved to Seattle to go to the University of Washington and stayed in Seattle. Growing up in Hawaii, she never knew what it was like to be a minority except for the times she was on the mainland. When she was in places in the US not as diverse as Hawaii, it was sometimes overwhelming to experience how different she truly appeared to others and the judgments she received. Once she moved to Seattle, she realized how many challenges she would face being a minority as well as needing to develop a tougher skin and stay motivated to succeed and be a leader in her field. We all face so many obstacles to succeed and it is even more challenging when we feel different, judged, and/or lacking due to being a different ethnicity than the majority. It can be challenging being a minority zookeeper, but she hopes that every year it will get a little easier and that we will see more diverse people working as an animal care professional. She believes that helping each other is so important, the support we provide each other will make all of us stronger and more confident every day.
Carolyn did not start her education and her new life ever thinking she would end up being a zookeeper, but fate took over and she has loved every day and appreciated being lucky enough to be a zookeeper and work with such incredible animals. She could never imagine living a different life that wasn't filled with these amazing animals and experiences. Zookeeping is a job where you dedicate your life to the care of animals, and your best friends are not humans but orangutans and tigers! She has been a zookeeper for 20 years and has primarily worked with primates and big cats. She has been featured in several vlogs and articles for her wildlife and environmental conservation work locally, nationally, and internationally.
Carolyn is a zookeeper and a conservationist. Giving all her time outside of the zoo to help save the species and forest she loves is her life and passion. She has been in the field with several Asian conservation organizations and believes that every zookeeper should at least once in their career go to the countries where the animals they care for come from. Being there in their true habitats gives us a deeper understanding that will change you forever.
She was a founding member and the co-chair of the D&I Council for Woodland Park Zoo and is involved in several D & I projects in her community and nationally. Carolyn is involved in over a dozen animal and environmental conservation organizations and the board of several organizations that are helping keep are forests alive and the animals we love have the home that they deserve.