Kenton Kerns
    Board Member

 

Kenton grew up in Front Royal, Virginia, near the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology from American University and has a master's from George Mason University with a concentration in Zoo and Aquarium Leadership. Kenton is an Assistant Curator at Smithsonian's National Zoo's Small Mammal House where he cares for a number of animals, including golden lion tamarins. As seen in the photo, keepers must wear masks when in the exhibit area with the tamarins to avoid possible transmission of human infections.  His research on captive animal behavior has been published in the professional journal Animal Keeper Forum.

Kenton’s passion for golden lion tamarins was sparked when he volunteered with the National Zoo’s golden lion tamarin Free Range Program. A pair or family of GLTs is released into the zoo’s Rock Creek campus during the summer months, and volunteers track the tamarins, monitor behavior, and interpret the released animals to guests. Kenton's volunteer work eventually led to his current full-time position working with GLTs at the National Zoo.

Kenton works closely with the golden lion tamarin Species Survival Plan, a group that manages the population of GLTs in captivity around the world. He’s had the opportunity to travel to Brazil and see GLT conservation and habitat restoration first hand. Kenton is the past president of the National Capital American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) chapter, the largest AAZK chapter in the country. The National Capital chapter provides professional development opportunities for zookeepers and raises funds for animal conservation. Under Kenton's leadership, the chapter received the prestigious AAZK Chapter of the Year Award for 2011. In 2013 he was awarded The Lutz Ruhe Meritorious Achievement AAZK Professional of the Year Award.