Black in Nature: Tackling Diversity in Conservation

Throughout Black History Month, Reid Park Zoo is amplifying the voices of Black professionals in the conservation, animal care, and environmental fields with its “Black in Nature: Tackling Diversity in Conservation” project.

Guests visiting the Zoo in the month of February will see statements by Black professionals in the conservation field as they walk the grounds. Profiles on these individuals will also be shared by the Zoo online throughout the month.

The project was pitched to the Zoo’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee by Carnivore Keeper Toni Mosley:

I proposed launching this campaign with two goals in mind: 1. To bring public attention to the need for diversity and safe spaces for Black people in the animal care and conservation fields and 2. To show Black youth that their dreams and goals are not only achievable but are shared and achieved by role models that look just like them.

As a Black American and a Nanticoke Indian descendent, I rarely saw anyone on TV or any other mainstream platform with my complexion that I could learn from or look up to in the animal science field. As a child, that never deterred me from my passion. However, once I began my zookeeping career, reality hit hard, as time and time again, jobs were passed to less qualified and melanated individuals. I was fortunate enough to find not one, but multiple black individuals in various levels of position to call “mentor” at my first facility. Through their guidance and leadership, I realized that not only were my dreams of being a lead keeper and more possible, but it was my duty to live up to the legacy of the ones who had made strides before me.

For this reason, my hope is that through the Black in Nature: Tackling Diversity in Conservation campaign, these Black individuals’ quotes and stories being posted online and displayed throughout your Zoo, will spark the conversation necessary to bring about change and create more opportunities for Black professionals. This project will also allow little Black boys and girls to realize the greatness and power they possess ensuring that anything is possible.

“Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.” ~Jacqueline Woodson, American Writer