Remembering Dr. Jennifer Mickelberg

Zoo Atlanta was devastated by the tragic passing of Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, our Vice President of Collections and Conservation, on October 31, 2023.

Her loss is keenly felt throughout the Zoo Atlanta family, from the teams of animal care professionals she led, to the close colleagues with whom she worked regularly, to all those beyond Zoo Atlanta who knew and were touched by her, both professionally and personally.

Jennifer’s professional zoological career was extensive and impactful. Prior to joining Zoo Atlanta, she served as a Small Population Research Biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute-Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics. She joined Zoo Atlanta in 2012 as Curator of Primates. In her most recent role as Vice President of Collections and Conservation, her many accomplishments included but were not limited to leadership of the Zoo’s Animal Care and Research Teams; development and implementation of the Zoo Atlanta Conservation Strategy; and scientific research related to population biology and viability.

She was an Elected Member and Board Member of the Golden Lion Tamarin Association in Brazil and served as the International Studbook Keeper and Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Coordinator for golden lion tamarins.

Jennifer had a wealth of expertise and talent she generously shared with future animal care professionals, biologists, and conservationists. She was a Course Instructor on Population Management at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an adjunct faculty member teaching Zoo Biology at Georgia State University. She previously served as an adjunct faculty member in the George Mason University Department of Biology and the Georgetown University Department of Biology.

Jennifer’s legacy is felt and missed in countless ways on an intensely individual level by so many people. Her most permanent legacy, however, will be left in the field of conservation. She devoted her career to the conservation of golden lion tamarins, an endangered species endemic to the Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil.

Jennifer's Forest Corridor

The Golden Lion Tamarin Association, a significant conservation partner of Zoo Atlanta and an organization devoted to Jennifer and her work, has pledged an especially meaningful memorial for her that will benefit the viability and long-term sustainability of this species with the creation of “Jennifer’s Forest Corridor,” a tract of restored forest which will connect fragmented tamarin populations and, when mature, will provide connected habitat for more than 3,000 golden lion tamarins.

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