May 20, 2022

Denver Zoo Grows Wildlife Conservation Leadership

We are growing and restructuring of our field conservation team! We've hired Angela Yang, who has worked in wildlife conservation on five continents for two decades, to the position of Director of International Field Conservation, and reorganized its current team of field conservationists to oversee the our local and global wildlife conservation programs. This will increase the Denver Zoo's ability to make significant impact for wildlife and wild places, and align the field conservation team to better support its mission: Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations.

“As wild species continue to face mounting threats, we are working to strategically position our staff and resources to make a meaningful difference for wildlife for many years to come,” said Erica Elvove, Senior Vice President for Conservation Engagement and Impact at Denver Zoo. “Angela’s experience and expertise are a valuable addition to our field conservation team, and allow us to build our capacity to expand existing programs while exploring new projects and partnerships.”

Prior to joining Denver Zoo, Yang helped launch the new Global Center for Species Survival, a partnership between the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Indianapolis Zoo, and served as Chief Conservation Officer at Rainforest Trust, where she led the conservation department in overseeing more than 150 projects to establish protected areas for species conservation around the world. Yang has worked with a variety of international NGOs, including Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society of London, leading conservation programs in Asia, Africa and the Americas, and has authored or co-authored a number of publications.

“I’m delighted to join an organization that has such a long track record in wildlife conservation, and is so well known for its efforts locally and globally,” said Yang. “I look forward to working with our communities and partners to strategically expand our global portfolio, increase our conservation impact, and leverage our stories to engage our zoo visitors right here in Denver.”

We also elevated the roles of its other field conservationists to manage regions where the wild counterparts of the animals in our care live, and where the Zoo currently operates and may expand in the future, including:

  • Dr. Stefan Ekernas, who previously served as Rocky Mountain/Great Plains Program Director, takes on the role of Director of Colorado Field Conservation to provide strategic leadership in planning, implementing and evaluating the Zoo’s statewide conservation programs. Ekernas has nearly two decades of conservation leadership experience, including work protecting wildlife habitat and species such as bison, American pika, bighorn sheep and boreal toads.
  • Former Mongolia Program Director Gana Wingard becomes the Regional Conservation Director for Asia to continue the Zoo’s work in Mongolia and begin developing new field conservation projects on the continent. Wingard has more than 20 years of field conservation experience, establishing and leading the Zoo’s Mongolia program. Her work and research led to the expansion of Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, which has been recognized as a model protected area by the United Nations.
  • Matt Herbert will oversee the Zoo’s current programs in Peru and seek new opportunities as the Regional Conservation Director for Latin America. Herbert, who began his career at the Zoo in 1997, helped develop its Lake Titicaca frog conservation project in 2008, and has experience as a leader in conservation, community engagement and education in Peru, Bolivia, Mongolia, Botswana, Vietnam, Kenya, Colorado and New Mexico.


For more information about our conservation work in Colorado and around the world, follow us on FacebookInstagramTikTok and Twitter for updates! 



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