Meet Jungle Jordan: The Black Zookeeper

I was scrolling through the wonderful world of Instagram when I came across an exciting profile filled with animals, conservation education, and Black joy. After scrolling through the profile's many videos and pictures, I was finally inclined to message the profile's owner: Jordan Veasley or (as he is known throughout social media) Jungle Jordan. Black representation within the field of conservation education has become a niche, that I have inadvertently incorporated into my Graduate research. Promoting diversity within conservation fields amongst groups of youth (especially Black, Indigenous, or People of Color) is essential in ensuring that future scientists can generate ideas that come from an array of diverse and cultured backgrounds. This "diversity of ideas" is currently what the field of conservation biology is missing and coming across Jungle Jordan's page was like seeing a flicker of hope in a desolate field of science. It was a reminder that Black zookeepers do exist, and they are working valiantly to provide representation within their fields and taking essential steps to promote, instill, and encourage a love for nature in children.

Jungle Jordan was born and raised in Seattle, Washington where he attended the University of Washington. From a very young age, Jordan knew that he loved animals and wanted to dedicate his future to caring for and helping them. Jordan shared a bit with me about his past and his passion:

"At age 11 I became one of the youngest volunteers in history at my local zoo and at that age I knew zookeeping would be my career path. As far as this science communication through social media goes, I’ve found growing up that I never saw anyone that looked like me in this field and wanted that to change. I wanted little kids to see that this animal world was an option and something that [was] okay to pursue. In the end, I just want everyone to feel that it’s okay to appreciate wildlife and find a passion of their own." -Jungle Jordan

I think we can all agree that Jungle Jordan is indeed the coolest zookeeper. He uploads frequently on Instagram, twitter and youtube. He uses social media to educate, influence, and advocate. Furthermore, he is the representation conservation biology desperately needs, and the hero that many Black children require as a reminder that they can occupy any space, field, or career.

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