Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Paul Marinari

Senior Curator of Animal Operations at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

Paul Marinari is the senior curator of animal operations at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

Marinari brings decades of wildlife conservation experience to SCBI. He earned a bachelor’s in biology and anthropology from the University of Delaware in 1987 and a master’s in zoology and physiology from the University of Wyoming in 1992 based on his studies of the endangered black-footed ferret. Over the last 20 years, he has worked for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Most notably he was the director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center. As such, he played a major role in linking ex situ breeding initiatives with in situ reintroduction, including working with and bringing together many stakeholders and facilitating research. Marinari has diverse species experience ranging from studying slime molds to Humbolt penguins, and he has conducted collaborative research in reproductive biology, nutrition, genetics, enrichment, vaccine development, pre-reintroduction preparation and monitoring of reintroduced animals. 

In his new role at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Front Royal facility, Marinari will be responsible for overseeing animal operations and working with senior staff to implement the master plan. A large part of his focus will be on the Slate Hill Conservation Area, nearly 250 acres devoted to diverse species. His major responsibilities as part of SCBI’s Center for Species Survival will also include ensuring that the growing animal collection is linked to sustainable population development through research and improved management, especially in coordination with the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2), as well as other zoos, universities, and federal, state and tribal governments.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute plays a key role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to understand and conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Virginia, SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide.