Year zoo career began:
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Robert grew up just ten minutes away from the Toronto Zoo, where the frequent visits there during his childhood cultivated and fostered Robert’s initial curiosity for animals. Robert graduated from the University of Guelph with a Major in Biological Science and a Zoology Minor, during which he completed a wildlife rehabilitation internship at the Toronto Wildlife Centre. It was not until the last year of his university career that he discovered a love for working particularly with avian species and in doing educational outreach while he volunteered with Wild Ontario.
Since then, Robert has worked at various facilities in Ontario including African Lion Safari, The Toronto Zoo and Mountsberg Raptor Centre; caring for the animals (focusing on birds of prey, psittacines, as well as other ambassador animal species) and connecting animals and people together to inspire some caring conservation action. Eager to learn more and wanting to expand his training knowledge to provide the animals in his care with the best welfare possible, Robert relocated to Florida and joined Natural Encounters Inc. (NEI) on their Winged Encounters Team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a Bird Trainer. There, he worked with over 90 macaws daily to help care and train new behaviours, while maintaining existing behaviours, to help deliver a very memorable free-flighted macaw flyover experience.
After his time with NEI, Robert returned back to Canada where he spent time working on his own small business until he accepted a position back at the Toronto Zoo as a Coordinator for the Climate Action Learning & Leadership Project. Robert was thrilled to participate in developing a program that provided underrepresented individuals from traditionally marginalized communities with opportunities and experiences in the conservation field to aid them in their future career path. Currently, Robert is a Grant Keeper at the Toronto Zoo, working in the Wildlife Health Centre and in some of their endangered species conservation programs. Robert’s advice for those looking to pursue a career in the zookeeping and conservation field is to keep an open mind, make meaningful connections, and to seize the opportunities that are around you (Yes, even if it means moving to a new country)!