“You are the caregivers of these animals. Their lives depend on your kindness. Their lives depend on how much you love them and care about them. You have to be their eyes and ears. It is your everyday duty to do your very best for them.”

In 2012, in partnership with The Jane Goodall Institute, the Phoenix Zoo created a unique position to promote international animal welfare. Filled by Hilda Tresz, the Behavioral Enrichment and International Animal Welfare Coordinator is responsible for developing and overseeing the Zoo’s Behavioral Enrichment program but also extends beyond the Zoo through an international role of helping zoos improve animal care.

During her visits to foreign zoos, Hilda’s responsibility is to assess, negotiate and improvise in order to make immediate changes with limited available resources. Every zoo and every country is different. Initial doubts and fears of proposed changes by zoo staff are often evident; she must develop a working relationship with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting. Suggestions that would seem to be common practices for those working in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility in the U.S. (such as the Phoenix Zoo) are viewed as novel recommendations by many institutions Hilda has visited.

Hilda has dedicated her life to improving the lives of animals all over the world, and the Phoenix Zoo is extremely lucky and grateful to have her on our staff.

This is her story.