Jodie Baker: Fellowship Provides “An Extraordinary Career”

Baker_lg.jpgJodie Baker, curator of marine mammals and recipient of the Dorothy A. Van Hove fellowship, oversees all of the marine mammals at the Indianapolis Zoo and the staff who work with them. She says, “I have been in the animal field for over 30 years, and I just love what I do.”

Marine mammals under Jodie’s care include dolphins, walruses, sea lions, seals, and polar bears. Of her Zoo career, Jodie says, “I feel very lucky to be able to say that I always love coming in to work every day, and every day is very different.” Reflecting upon her fondest Zoo memory, Jodie points to the first time one of the walrus calves started suckling from a bottle. She says of the young walrus, “Her head was in my arms, she looked at me with her large brown eyes, made a small little walrus sound … and my heart was touched forever.”

Before joining the Indianapolis Zoo, Jodie received her bachelor of science degree in biology education and her master’s degree in marine science from Eastern Connecticut State University. She spent eight years working with marine mammals at the Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. She has worked with the Indianapolis Zoo’s marine mammals since 1988 and has been curator of marine mammals since 1999.

The Dorothy A. Van Hove fellowship funds the marine mammals curator position and greatly advances the Zoo’s marine mammal program. As Jodie notes, the fellowship provides “a great sense of investment and sustainability into our future.”

As curator she is responsible for overseeing the selection, acquisition, and de-acquisition of species, implementing strategies for sustaining species within the collection, and providing optimal health, welfare, and safety of the animals. She also maintains records, reviews finances, and actively participates in the development and implementation of conservation programs at the zoo. “In this position,” she says, “you need to be very devoted and committed to the animal field to succeed.” She adds, “Of course, the marine mammals and staffing under my care make my position an extraordinary career.”

The Indianapolis Zoo is privileged to have Jodie as curator of marine mammals. Her experience, expertise, and true compassion for marine mammals is part of what makes the zoo collection one of the best cared-for in the country and makes the research programs so valuable in conservation efforts to protect the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Pacific walrus, and other marine mammal species.

 

 

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