As curator of American Trail and Amazonia, Rachel Metz oversees two broadly diverse areas at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. American Trail is home to a number of America’s iconic species, including wolves, sea lions, river otters, beavers, bald eagles and more. Amazonia is a lush jungle environment where spoonbills, titi monkeys, piranha and electric eels can be found.
Metz is responsible for the day-to-day operations of American Trail and Amazonia, which collectively house native marine and terrestrial mammals, as well as exotic mammals, birds, fishes, amphibians and reptiles. The variety of animals in her charge requires a broad biological knowledge base in order to assure the highest quality animal care. Her goals for the future include expanding the diversity of species in each area.
Metz is not new to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, where she previously spent several years working as an animal keeper on American Trail—an area of the Zoo with which she feels a strong bond. Metz recently returned to the National Zoo after spending four years as director of husbandry for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Prior to that, she worked in various capacities for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, the South Carolina Aquarium and SeaWorld.
Metz is involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on a number of levels, including service on the Field Conservation Committee, Scientific Advisory Committee for Conservation Grant Funds and as one of the founding instructors for the AZA course Principles of Aquarium Husbandry, Leadership and Design also known as AZA “Aqua School."
Metz earned a bachelor's of science in marine biology from the College of Charleston and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies—zoo and aquarium leadership and conservation education—from George Mason University. She is passionate about inspiring individuals from all walks of life to love and appreciate wild animals and wild places as much as she does and feels that the memorable up-close experiences that the Zoo offers help to foster appreciation (and therefore conservation) of the amazing animals under her care.