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Staff biologist appointed to AAZK Board of Directors

Russell Pharr, a staff biologist at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). AAZK supports zookeepers through professional development opportunities and supports deserving conservation projects. AAZK has over 100 local chapters across the U.S. and Canada, including the Point Defiance AAZK Chapter.

Pharr is tasked with the oversight of AAZK’s International Outreach Committee, which runs capacity building programs and provides development resources to keepers in Latin America. He will also oversee the Resource Committee, which creates, maintains and distributes resources to allow individuals, chapters and institutions to answer frequently asked questions in the animal care profession.

staff biologist with elephant in background
Staff Biologist Russell Pharr smiles with elephant behind him

“I am incredibly honored to have been asked to join the AAZK Board of Directors,” said Pharr. “AAZK has been an amazing resource for me in developing my professional career, and I hope that through my service on the Board I can help other keepers experience the same.”

Pharr says you don’t need to be a zoo keeper to join AAZK. The best way to get involved is through joining and/or supporting local chapters. The Point Defiance Zoo and Rainier (Northwest Trek Wildlife Park) chapters hold many events throughout the year. The events are often posted on social media. You can also subscribe to email lists by emailing or