Thursday, April 19, 2018
VOL. NINETY-FOUR, Issue No. 42
 
Join Us on the Rooftop
Alan Varsik - Metro Parks
Director of Zoological & Environmental Education

Are Zoos Still Zoos? 

People have always had an innate curiosity about animals. Perhaps one of the greatest illustrations of our curiosity has been the zoo. Over the past 30 years I have seen dramatic changes in the zoo and aquarium world- how zoos operate, and the growing roles zoos play. Modern accredited zoological facilities like our Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are outstanding examples of the continued advancement zoos are making in animal care, wildlife conservation, and community connection. 

You will be amazed at the depth of care provided to our animals as well as the conservation achievements of Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. I’m excited to share with you not only the new facilities and programs that we have in store, but our developing vision of who we will be in the future.

Alan Varsik came to Metro Parks Tacoma in February 2015 as Deputy Director at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park with 30 years of zoo, aquarium, and conservation experience. His experience includes keeper, curator, Director of Animal Programs and Conservation, and Chief Operating Officer roles at an array of organizations, including Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Santa Barbara Zoo, and Oklahoma City Zoo. He has been a university instructor and has a long history of conservation work, including with the California condor and Channel Island Fox.

Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental and systematic biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master’s degree in conservation management from DePaul University in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’, AZA,  Executive Leadership Development Program and a Certified Park and Recreation Professional through the National Park and Recreation Association. He also serves as an accreditation inspector, on the Diversity Committee, and is a professional development instructor for the AZA.

While at Northwest Trek, he oversaw activities that included the celebration of Northwest Trek’s 40th anniversary and construction of the $1.9 million nature-inspired Kids’ Trek playground. Under his direction, Northwest Trek also set two attendance records and served more than a quarter-million visitors in 2016.