BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, our skilled team of professionals are the backbone of International Rhino Keeper Association. Their ideas help shape the direction and mission of our organization as it continues to develop. Read on to learn more about some of our incredible team members.
Joe Hauser worked with the greater one-horned and Eastern black rhino, along with various other hoofstock species at the Buffalo Zoo for 16 years. Led by Dr. Monica Stoops, Joe and his team were successful at producing 2 GOH rhino calves through assisted reproduction. They were also successful breeding the GOH rhino by natural means. He served as an advisor for the Rhino Assisted Reproduction Enterprise (RARE) for four years. While in Buffalo, he served as AZA’s greater one-horned rhino studbook keeper. Joe is currently the Executive Director of the African Rhino Protection Initiative (ARPI), which is a 450-acre rhino preserve located in North Texas. There, he works with a crash of Southern white rhinos in a large naturalistic setting.
Christine Bobko is Christine has over 26 years of experience working with rhinos, and will soon celebrate her 25th anniversary at the Denver Zoo where her passion for rhinos has been allowed to flourish! Christine is a founding Board of Director of the IRKA.
She is the current director of operations at The Rhinory.
Dr. Christopher Tubbs serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Senior Scientist in the Reproductive Sciences group. He is interested in how environmental chemicals affect reproduction of endangered species and his research focuses on developing in vitro methods to measure interactions between environmental chemicals and the hormone receptors that regulate endocrine function. For the past decade, he has used this approach to study the role of dietary phytoestrogens in the poor reproductive success of captive-born southern white rhinos. In addition, he is a co-investigator for San Diego Zoo Global’s Northern White Rhino Initiative.
Stephanie Richmond is a Senior Keeper in the River’s Edge at the Saint Louis Zoo. She has over 13 years of experience caring for Eastern black rhinos. Stephanie organized the Saint Louis Zoo’s first World Rhino Day event, which is now an annual event in its 4th year. Stephanie also serves as the AZA Dwarf Mongoose SSP Coordinator and Studbook Keeper. She has been a member of IRKA since 2007 and was the Election Committee Chair 2010-2014
Robyn is a Zoological Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She has cared for Southern white rhinos for over 14 years, as well as a wide variety of other species across her career. Robyn first got involved with IRKA by attending the 2011 rhino keepers workshop hosted by Fossil Rim. Prior to joining the IRKA board, she served on the communications, conservation & the workshop committees. Robyn has a Masters in Zoology from Miami University and is currently working with IRF on a project through the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) Class 8.
Jason is the primary rhino keeper in the hoofstock department at the Nashville Zoo. He has been working with white rhino at Nashville since they arrived in 2016. Over the last 19 years, he has worked with black, greater one horned, and Sumatran rhino. He has also worked with all forms of African and Asian hooved animals, as well as big cats, small mammals and birds. He has been an IRKA member since 2005, attending workshops in Columbus, Melbourne (presented), Denver, and Disney.
IRKA Board Advisor
Angie Snowie is one of two primary Greater one horned rhino keepers at the Toronto zoo in Toronto, Canada. Angie started working with marine mammals in 1993 and in 2004 shifted to zoo animals. She started working with greater one horned rhinos in 2012 and they have captivated her heart. Rhinos have ignited a passion within her to work hard to fundraise for all five species of rhinos in the wild. Angie, along with her partner, started a fundraising campaign called "iheartrhinos" to create awareness of the crisis all five species are facing and to sell iheart rhinos merchandise online and at events to raise funds for conservation. As a winner of the AAZK Bowling for Rhinos campaign in 2015 and 2016, she has been fortunate enough to travel to Kenya, Sumatra, and Java to see rhinos in their native habitat. Angie has successfully raised over 85,000 dollars for rhino conservation. Angie has been a member of IRKA since 2013 and feels that belonging to this organization has not only changed the life of the rhinos in her care, but helps give direction and inspiration for a long future in her fight too save rhino species and to be their voice in our zoo settings.
CeCe joined IRF as deputy director in 2016. Previously she worked at WWF, focusing on combating the illegal wildlife trade and demand for illegal wildlife products in the U.S. and Asia, while also managing community based conservation projects in East Africa.
Pat Fountain is the Animal Care Supervisor at the Potter Park Zoo. Pat has worked with Eastern black rhinos for over 15 years. During his time there, he has helped create the rhino training program, established the zoo’s yearly world rhino day event, and overseen the zoo’s first successful breeding and birth of a rhino calf. Pat has attended rhino keeper workshops in Chester, Denver, and Disney. He has presented at two conferences, one on treating a black rhino with a seizure disorder, and one on foot work training in Eastern black rhino.
Jade is one of the lead keepers at North Carolina Zoo’s Watani Plains working with Southern White Rhinos. As a keeper for 17 years she has worked with both black and white rhinos along with hoofstock of all sizes. She is a member of the training committee, scholarship committee, and has served on the election committee in past years. She has recently taken over the membership chair
Cody Cseplo has been an Animal Management Specialist at The Wilds since 2016 and is one of two employees that specializes in rhinos. He has cared for a large breeding group of Southern white rhinos, a growing breeding group of greater one-horned rhinos, and Eastern black rhinos in temporary situations. The Wilds management strategy revolves around the seasonal utilization of large, mixed-species, pastures. Cody assists in the care of the hoofstock collection at The Wilds and also manages a large production bison herd. He has been a member of IRKA since 2016, participated in the Keeper Professional Development Program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and attended the 2019 Rhino Keeper Workshop. He is also the North American regional studbook for greater one horned rhinos.
Cassy is the Curator of large mammals and carnivores at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Elected to the BOD in 2017, Cassy has a passion for black rhinos specifically and has been fortunate enough to work with multiple calves. A self proclaimed tech nerd, she often works on the website and webinars.
IRKA Board Advisor
Adam has been with Fossil Rim Wildlife Center since 1989 and has worked with the white rhino herd since that time and with the black rhino herd since they first arrived in 1992. His daily routine still includes some rhino husbandry and management. Adam attended the 1991 International Rhino Conference in San Diego which began his career with rhinos (and introduced him to many of the rhino professionals he still calls friends and colleagues). He also attended the 1999, 2001 (presenter), 2009, 2011 (Fossil Rim hosted, presenter), 2013 (presenter) and 2017 (presenter and round table moderator) Rhino Keeper Workshops. Adam is a co-author of a number of publications about rhinos. He was involved with the writing of the original Rhino Husbandry Manual (RHM) and is a co-editor on the digital version. Adam is a scientific advisor to the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the population manager for Southern Black Rhinos for the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2). Additionally, he is the White Rhino SSP Coordinator and Rhino Taxon Advisory Group Chair for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
IRKA Board Advisor
Nina joined IRF in May of 2020 as its Executive Director. She has been a wildlife conservation professional for more than 30 years. She previously held positions as vice president of philanthropy and vice president of field conservation at Defenders of Wildlife, and was executive director at Bat Conservation International.
Amber Berndt is a Senior Keeper in the Plains Department at the Indianapolis Zoo. She has worked with Southern white rhinos and other African species for over 18 years. Amber became a member of IRKA in 2005 and was on the Board of Directors in 2017. She is currently on the scholarship and fundraising committees. She is the Chair for Indy AAZK’s Bowling for Rhinos and has had the opportunity to visit Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. She will have another once in a lifetime opportunity of visiting Java and Sumatra next summer.
As a member of IRKA for over ten years, Chad is now the Africa Area Supervisor at the Oregon Zoo and has worked with both African and Asian rhinos, 19 of his 25 years in the animal care field. His career has brought him to both coasts of the US managing Southern black rhinos at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and then as a primary rhino keeper at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle when he received their first rhinos in the zoo’s 124-year history before making his way to Portland. Chad has a vested interest in how we can provide better care for the rhinos in our collections, such as large volume phlebotomy and minimizing Iron Overload Disorder (IOD) in captive browsing rhinos, and Chronic Foot Disease (CFD) in captive Greater One-horned rhinos including changing to the appropriate substrate for better welfare. He’s been fortunate to speak at schools, live streamed social media, art and conservation events about The Horns and Heroes Project a non-profit organization he started and raised funds for The International Rhino Foundation and rhino conservation and consulted with other institutions about future rhino exhibit design, care, and welfare.