Animal Forest Curator Jillian Davis

Park Service Profiles

Meet Jillian Davis, the passionate and dedicated Animal Forest Curator at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site. Jillian has a deep connection with the park dating back to her teenage years.

Jillian is happily married with two kids, ages 13 and 15. Her household is a lively one, featuring two dogs (a Doberman and a Vizsla), two cats, a yard full of chickens, and an African Grey Parrot.

Her journey at Charles Towne Landing began in 1993 when, at the age of 15, Jillian started volunteering in the Settler's Life area. Although she couldn't initially volunteer in the zoo due to her age, her determination led her to a part-time position as an Interpreter, focusing on caring for animals in the Settler's Life Area. After a brief hiatus to attend college at Charleston Southern University, she returned in 2006 as a part-time Zookeeper and worked her way up to Assistant Curator and now Curator.

Jillian has known she wanted to work with animals since childhood, so her early connection with the park and accepting the position as Animal Forest Curator was a dream come true. Her preparation for this role involved studying biology and natural science, managing a pet store and volunteering at various organizations. Her daily tasks as a curator include animal husbandry, training, staff management, maintenance, volunteer coordination and manager duties such as budgeting, payroll and procurement.

For Jillian, the most rewarding part of her job is animal training: “Animal training is rewarding as you develop a relationship with an animal, and over time you can hone their behavior to assist the staff veterinarian with medical observation and care.  When an animal can take an active role in their own healthcare, willingly, and stress-free it's helps make the task at hand easier for all involved. “

Jillian encourages those interested in animal care to pursue the career but emphasizes it's demanding and challenging. Her advice is simple: volunteer and gain hands-on experience.

Among many memorable moments, one comes to the forefront. Jillian, along with Staff Veterinarian Dr. Todd Heldreth, had the honor of meeting Jim Fowler, the visionary behind the Animal Forest. Fowler, a renowned conservationist and host of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, visited in 2017 to unveil the park’s first Bald Eagle habitat. Park staff named the eagle "Fowler" in his honor.

Jillian's journey from a volunteer to the Animal Forest Curator is a testament to her dedication and love for animals. Her advice to aspiring zookeepers reflects the passion and commitment required for a career in animal care.

Thank you, Jillian, for all of your hard work and dedication! Take a peek into what a day in Jillian’s life is like at Charles Towne Landing in Episode 30 of our “Day in the Life” series.

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