Today, Who's Who talks to Dr. Kristen Lukas, a nationally recognized expert on gorillas who trains the scientists of tomorrow here in the Zoo's Conservation & Science Division, and through her work as an adjunct assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University.Name: Dr. Kristen Lukas
What do you do at the Zoo? I am an animal behaviorist so I use science to better understand and sometimes modify the behavior of animals (and occasionally people!) here at the Zoo. Working with teams of talented staff members, university partners, and students, I conduct studies that help improve animal behavior, health, and welfare. As curator of the Zoo’s Conservation & Science division, I also serve on the senior animal management team and am responsible for overseeing the Zoo’s research and wildlife conservation initiatives.
What was the first Zoo job you ever had? Studying gorilla behavior at the Toledo Zoo.
Favorite animal: Gorilla.
Favorite part of the Zoo: The walkway around Waterfowl Lake.
Why I work at the Zoo: To help make animals in zoos as happy as possible and to help conserve their wild counterparts.
Best thing about living in Northeast Ohio (other than the Zoo, of course!): Cleveland Metroparks!!! I LOVE hiking the Metroparks with my husband and sons – of course, our dog loves it when we take him, too.
A funny thing happened at the Zoo . . . One time I gave an interview to a TV news crew about our gorillas. I thought the interview went very well but when I later saw the footage on TV, I discovered they put my name at the bottom of the screen while still showing footage of one of our gorillas. It would have been fine except it was a pretty good close-up of the gorilla’s rear end!
One animal characteristic you wish you could have and why: I would definitely want to fly so I could soar through the skies and experience nature from an entirely different perspective.