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Brandie Smith, Ph.D.

Brandie Smith, associate director for animal care sciences, oversees the care and management of the ~ 4,000 animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. This includes the animal exhibits, such as Giant Pandas, Great Cats, American Trail, and Reptile Discovery Center, as well as the Zoo’s Nutrition, Veterinary, and Pathology departments.

In addition to her work at the Zoo, Smith is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission and Small Population Management Advisory Group and the IUCN Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG).

Smith joined the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s animal care staff in 2008. She came to the zoo after 10 years at the AZA, where she was vice president of animal conservation, and responsible for facilitating, promoting, and supporting the cooperative conservation and scientific activities of AZA’s more than 200 member institutions and almost 1,000 animal programs.  Before that, she was a rhino keeper at the Dallas Zoo, a curatorial intern at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and a behavioral research intern at the Pittsburgh Zoo.  She has written many articles and book chapters on how zoos and aquariums can manage and conserve their animal collections.

Smith’s research background is in population genetics. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland, focusing her research on how to manage large groups of animals—those that live in herds, flocks, and tanks—where breeding pairs and even individuals are difficult to identify and control. Her hope is that her research will help increase sustainability of both zoo and wild populations.