As Director of Animal Care, Bob Lee leads a world-class team of professionals that ensure the health, safety and welfare of the animals entrusted to the Smithsonian’s care at both the 163-acre Zoo facility in Washington, DC’s Rock Creek Park and the 3,200-acre Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute campus in Front Royal, Virginia. 

Prior to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Lee spent more than twenty years at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore., where he oversaw and led animal care teams responsible for a wide variety of species. He was involved in efforts ranging from butterfly conservation programs to managing teams responsible for the largest land mammals. He also led the award-winning design of the zoos largest and most ambitious animal habitat to date, Elephant Lands.  Most recently, he served as the associate director of the ABQ BioPark, in Albuquerque, NM.  There he oversaw the animal care and conservation programs for the BioPark’s zoo, aquarium, BUGarium, Heritage breed farm and led the facility and safety teams.

Along with his experience leading teams from multiple disciplines, he brings a focus on executive leadership and communication to the Animal Care Sciences department.

Lee serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan coordinator for Asian elephants and the Asian elephant studbook keeper, and he also serves as an accreditation inspector for the AZA.

At a young age, Lee was inspired to devote his life to animal conservation after an unplanned visit to his hometown zoo.  That transformative visit taught him the power that accredited zoos and aquariums have to connect communities to the natural world, leaving him with the desire to make the same connection each time someone visits the Zoo.

Lee remains committed to creating a welcoming environment for the communities that NZCBI serves each day and wants all guests inspired to take action on behalf of the natural world.