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Welcome Michelle Smurl to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo Team

Welcome to the Zoo Team, Michelle Smurl!

“I visited the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo when Earl Wells was the Executive Director, and since then I always kept it in the back of mind that this would be a great place to work.”

Nearly 30 years later, Michelle Smurl has joined the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo team as the Director of Animal Care. In her new role, Michelle will oversee the care of 1,600 zoo animals, with everything from behavior to making sure habitats are designed for animals to thrive. We are thrilled to have Michelle bring her vast knowledge to our zoo.

With a resume that extends longer than an orangutan’s arm, Michelle’s career began in Tampa Florida as an educator, working her way up to Zoo Keeper, Registrar and Information Technologist before accepting a position as Curator of Animals at Brevard Zoo. Combing her love of back yard conservation with zoological missions, she was able to work with regulatory agencies on translocating Florida scrub-jays, introduce captive bred Perdido Key beach mice into their native habitats, and jumpstart a variety of butterfly conservation initiatives. All of her hard work earned her a position as Director of Animal Programs, where she thrived at leading and mentoring fellow animal and conservation professionals. She then took her knowledge to Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society as the Chief Animal Officer, where she served on AZA Advisory Groups and SAFE programs.

“As a child, I was drawn to the outdoors and was fascinated with animals. My parents often took me to the local zoo in upstate New York. It wasn’t until I was older and visited Bronx Zoo did I realize my passion for conserving wildlife.”

With a career filled to the brim with animal-wellbeing and leadership expertise, Michelle’s life-long childhood dreams have now sent her to our children’s zoo, and we can’t wait to see how her work inspires the next generation of wildlife conservationists.