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San Diego Zoo Escorts

Joop Kuhn

Hawaii Escort 2017

Joop (pronounced Yopi) Kuhn, Animal Care Manager for the San Diego Zoo's Bird Department, has been working with birds for 34 years and is the co-founder of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program on Maui and the Big Island.

Joop graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Biology and entered the zookeeping field at SeaWorld, where he cared for a large penguin colony. Joop's penguin expertise has taken him to the wilds of Antarctica and South Africa.

He joined the San Diego Zoo in 1992 and then left in 1995 to open the Hawaiian bird breeding facility at the request of The Peregrine Fund. Joop and his wife (who is also a bird expert) collaborated with partners, including the San Diego Zoo, to build the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program from the ground up. They bred several critically endangered species, including the alala (Hawaiian crow), puaiohi (small Kauai thrush), and palila for eventual release into the wild. Joop returned to the Safari Park in 2001 to work as a senior keeper at the veterinary medical center before coming to the San Diego Zoo to help oversee the bird collection.

Joop is excited about this opportunity to share how San Diego Zoo Global's frontline conservation work is putting animals back into the wild. His insight into the efforts to save many of Hawaii's most endangered birds will provide a first-hand, behind-the-scenes experience for the travelers who join him on this tour.

Joanne Leidenberger

Galápagos Escort 2017

Joanne Leidenberger knows how to entertain and engage volunteers with projects and programs they are passionate about, helping others discover fulfilling volunteer roles with San Diego Zoo Global. As director of events for the Zoo's development department for 22 years, Joanne is directly responsible for guiding the Zoo's annual black-tie gala committees for Rendezvous In the Zoo (R•I•T•Z), and she oversees her team's efforts on a multitude of donor recognition events, fund-raisers, exhibit openings, and serves as liaison to a variety of San Diego Zoo Global donor support groups.  

Through her career she has served as the lead host for San Diego Zoo Global's Conservation Award honorees who are from all around the globe.  Each year SDZG celebrates the work of these dedicated conservation researchers and advocates at an event in San Diego.  Joanne has enjoyed meeting the recipients and their families, learning about their work and coordinating their stays in San Diego.

Prior to being a staff member, Joanne was initially an active volunteer with the Zoo and helped establish its first volunteer program.  Joanne previously volunteered with the San Diego Humane Society when she first arrived in San Diego from Pennsylvania in 1980.

Joanne loves to travel and enjoys cuisines from all parts of the globe.  On all of her trips, she has made it her goal for all members of the group to have an enjoyable and rewarding journey: she has a special touch in bringing people together. With her varied background, Joanne understands how to make people comfortable and promises to make your trip to Galápagos one you will remember for a lifetime!