Board of Directors
Dr. Peter Brewer, Chairman
Peter Brewer has been a general curator since 1974, working at both small and medium-sized zoos. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, MA in 1998. He currently is the staff veterinarian and general curator at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, MA, which features over 500 animals and 150 species.
Jim Fouts, Vice Chair
Tanganyika Wildlife Park
Jim Fouts has been in the zoo industry since 1972 and was working in zoos until 1977, when he decided to go out on his own. Starting in 1978, he began importing birds and animals from all over the world for zoological collections, and in 1985, he opened bird import stations in Los Angeles. Ever since 1980, he worked throughout Africa supplying birds and animals to zoos around the world. In 1985, he began developing a holding/breeding compound in Goddard, Kan. Jim is currently the director of Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
John Wortman, Treasurer
Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates
John Wortman’s career, spanning over 40 years, began as a zookeeper at the Topeka Zoological Park in 1967. By 1970, he moved on to the Louisville Zoological Gardens as the zoo's curator. A year later, the position of general curator opened at the Topeka Zoological Park, and he returned to Kansas where a promotion to assistant director took place in 1975. In 1979, while hoping to obtain more experience in a larger zoo operation, he relocated to the Dallas Zoo as the curator of mammals. In addition to zoo work, he spent five years as a part-time biology instructor at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. Following another opportunity in 1985, he relocated to the Denver Zoological Gardens to serve as general curator, from which he retired 18 years later. At this point in 2003, he moved to Southwest Florida and assumed the position of collections manager which eventually became the administrative manager of a wildlife ranch known as the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates (CCTU). This conservation/propagation facility places tropical and subtropical hoofed animals in spacious, natural conditions. Currently, several of the herds housed at CCTU contain the largest numbers of that particular species outside of their native habitats.
Matt Oldenburg, Secretary
Matt Oldenburg represents a younger generation in the zoological community. Born and raised in south Louisiana, he co-manages his family’s zoo. Matt holds a BS in Environmental Biology and a BSM in Marketing and Management, both from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. His more than 10 years of zoo experience landed him the role of Assistant Director with his family’s Zoosiana – a home to more than 125 species and 750 animals. Matt’s ongoing zoo practice and young perspective bring a fresh approach to ZAA. He takes an active role in the organization and has most notably served in the following capacities: founding member of the Code of Ethics Committee (2009-2010), Conference Committee Chairman and then Vice Chairman (2010-2012), and Accreditation Committee Inspector (2010-current). The ZAA delegation elected Matt to the Board of Directors in 2010 and the Board appointed him to the Office of Secretary in 2012. Matt has a long-term commitment to ZAA. At home, he is dedicated to leadership and community engagement and is a frequent featured speaker at various local organizations. He lives in Lafayette, LA.
Pat Condy, Ph.D.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Dr. Patrick Condy is a veteran of wildlife conservation efforts. Born and raised in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, he grew up in the wildlife management and conservation business. Dr. Condy holds a B.Sc. in Animal Science, an M.Sc. in Natural Resource Ecology and a D.Sc. in Zoology. He worked for the National Parks and Wildlife Department of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in the early 1970s, moved to South Africa where for 6 years he conducted research on seals and whales in the Antarctic before becoming the director of scientific research in the South African Antarctic Program for 10 years. He also did wildlife consultancy for a major 1980s trend by South African cattle ranchers converting to game ranching. From 1992 to 2000 he was director of the Johannesburg zoo during which he led its privatization process from a city to a non-profit operated facility. He and his family came to the USA in 2001, when he worked as Program Dean for The School for Field Studies associated with Boston University. Executive Director of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center (FRWC) since 2003, he presides over its business, conservation, and education operations. Dr. Condy played a key role in the 2008 donation to Fossil Rim of the 1,700 acres of the land on which it operates. He is working to increase FRWC’s engagement with and contributions to wildlife conservation globally and to strengthen its key role in the tourism economy of the local community in Somervell County and the city of Glen Rose, Texas. Dr. Condy was honored with Honorary Life memberships of the Zoological Society of South Africa and the Wildlife Management Association of Southern Africa. He helped found and served many years on the board of the Pan African Zoo and Aquarium Association (PAAZAB). He served as scientific advisor on the South African delegation to the Antarctic Treaty system, and as national representative on the International Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. Dr. Condy has authored many scientific publications and co-authored a number of books on the ecology and conservation of the Antarctic. He lives in Glen Rose, TX.
Mike inadvertently began his career in 1971 in concessions at the Chilhowie Park Zoo before it became the Knoxville Zoo. In addition to working a side job transporting exotic animals (and race horses), he served in many roles at the Knoxville Zoo, including keeper, marine animal trainer, associate director, and finally interim zoo director before leaving to accept the position of animal programs director at the Fort Worth Zoo in 1993. Mike's experience with carnivores led to conservation field work in India with Asiatic lions, wolves in North America, and lions and cheetahs in Africa. Today he is still active in the field with Caribbean species and habitat conservation with a focus on head starting and reintroduction programs. Mike currently serves on the board of the International Elephant and Rhino Foundations (IEF & IRF), The Caribbean Wildlife (CWA) and Turtle Survival (TSA) Alliances, and the IUCN Iguana Specialists Group. Past appointments include the IUCN Conservation Breeding Group, the UNESCO Scientific Advisory Committee and the Aquarium and Zoo Associations board of directors, among others. Mike became the executive director of the Fort Worth Zoo in 2001, and is proud to see the zoo continually named in the top five and 10 zoos in nation by various publications, including Zagat's Family Travel Guide.
Fort Worth Zoo
Lex Salisbury is currently the President/CEO and co-proprietor of Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland, Florida. He is also the sole proprietor of Giraffe Ranch, LLC. in Dade City, Florida. Both ranches are home to a multitude of exotic hoofstock including giraffe, pygmy hippo, Indian rhino, Congo buffalo, eland, bongo, warthog, red river hog, as well as numerous species of primates, birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
Formerly, Lex served as President/CEO of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, bringing the zoo from one of “five worst zoos in America” in 1986 (Humane Society) to the “Best Zoo in America” (Child Magazine) in 2004. In his 21 years at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, he grew the budget 100-fold (from $200k to $20m).
Lex earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Sydney and his Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.
This year, Giraffe Ranch received a 5-star TripAdvisor award and was noted as a Top 10 “Fodor’s Choice” in Tampa Bay.
Alan Sironen is the owner of Zoo Consultants International LLC. The company was founded in March of 2011 to assist clients in animal exhibit planning, zoo animal equipment development and animal transportation. I was employed for over 35 years at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. During my employment I held positions as Zookeeper, Head Zoo Keeper, Assistant General Curator, Curator of Mammals, Curator of Mammalogy, and Curator of Large Mammals and Carnivores. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Capital University in 1975 and a M.B.A. in International Business Administration from Baldwin Wallace College in 1986. While employed at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo I was a professional member of the American Zoo Association and was elected to the AZA Steering Committees for Antelope and Giraffe Taxon Advisory Group, Felid Taxon Advisory Group,South American Primate Taxon Advisory Group, and the Wild Pig, Peccary and Hippo Taxon Advisory Group. I am a Professional Member of the Zoological Association of America. I recently was appointed to the Accreditation Committee of the Zoological Association of America.
Bearizona Wildlife Park
Vanessa Stoffel is the Chief Operating Officer for Bearizona Wildlife Park. Ms. Stoffel holds a BS in Agriculture Education and MS in Community and Regional Planning Economic Development and more than fifteen years experience working in the zoological field with North American wildlife.
Ms. Stoffel has helped grow annual visitation from 90,000 to 200,000 since opening in 2010. Within three short years, Bearizona Wildlife Park earned recognition and joined the Grand Canyon as one of the top ten attractions in the state of Arizona. Bearizona Wildlife Park's rapid growth and development can in part be contributed to extensive use of large-scale exhibitry constructed from more than 150 tons of recycled scrap material.
Dr. Eric Trager
Animal World & Snake Farm
Dr. Eric Trager is originally from the Greater Boston area; he was then raised in both Southern California and Dallas, Texas. Currently, Eric is a dedicated leader and successful entrepreneur who resides in Plano, Texas.
Eric has diverse business interests from specialty and general contracting, to founding and operating pain and wellness chiropractic clinics (5 of them) and urgent care medical clinics (8 of them). These and similar business endeavors have allowed Eric the means to make his primary interest in exotic animal propagation and conservation a priority.
In 2006, Eric bought the severely run-down 3 acre Snake Farm in New Braunfels, Texas with a goal and keen eye to turn it around. Today, Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, a 20 acre park is a ZAA accredited facility.
In addition to being a successful business executive and zoo owner, Eric is very much involved with political issues, negotiating appropriate regulations for exotic animal owners across the county. Eric raises funds to support favorable legislation, consults people in their states on how to network and work within the system for the purpose of creating the relationships needed, such that when legislation is brought up, they are aware and have friends in the right places.
John Seyjagat, ZAA Executive Director
John Seyjagat has over 30 years’ experience in exotic animal management, 27 of which are at a supervisory or managerial level. Prior to taking the leadership role of Executive Director of the ZAA, he spent 14 years as Curator of Australian Exhibits at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
John started his zoological career in his homeland Trinidad where for 10 years he was Head Keeper at the Emperor Valley Zoo. In 1990 he migrated to the Florida USA where he joined the Lubee Foundation as Director and spent 13 years transforming that institution into one of the world leaders in fruit bat conservation.
John has extensive experience monitoring and evaluating populations of small mammals in the wild and has done field conservation work in the Philippines, Malaysia, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, South America, the Caribbean and Australia. His most recent conservation endeavor focused on a partnership with the Territory Wildlife Park in NT Australia to pursue the sustainable population management of Yellow Footed Wallaby, Northern Quoll, Oenpelli Python and Gouldian Finch.
John Seyjagat has contributed to over 50 bat research projects generating 92 scientific publications and numerous reptile research projects which resulted in the rediscovery of thought to be extinct species and most recently the discovery of a new species of turtle for Australia, Macrochelodina walloyarrina.
John Seyjagat has been involved in numerous exhibit designing projects including Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Australia Wild Extremes, AZA’s 2008 Exhibit Award winner! John maintain ties with his homeland and serves as Director International of the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago Emperor Valley Zoo.
Jim Fowler, ZAA Ambassador and Advisor to the Board
Jim Fowler has been involved in presenting animals to the public for over 40 years. He has been a consultant to zoos and wildlife parks, owns and operates his own wildlife ranch and is developing new kinds of wildlife parks that intend to reconnect families and children to the natural world by combining education and adventure. His career in television includes having been co-host and then host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” the wildlife correspondent to NBC's Today Show and a regular on many talk shows. He is currently the honorary president of the Explorer's Club and serves on the board of several wildlife organizations. His mission is to help affect public attitudes so more people care about the existence of the natural world and understand that “How We Treat the Earth” is vitally important to our human welfare.