Neil Allen joined Point Defiance Zoo in 2010 as Aquatic Animal Curator and has managed the Rocky Shores Marine Mammal team for six years and the Aquarium team for 10 years. Serendipity brought Neil to Tacoma. He had just returned from working in the United Arab Emirates and was looking for a position in the Pacific Northwest when the Point Defiance Zoo job opened.
Over his three-decade career as a marine biologist, Neil has worked in five states and five countries. He has helped open five aquariums, including Monterey Bay Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, Colorado’s Ocean Journey Aquarium, Sharjah Aquarium in the United Arab Emirates and, most recently, the Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo. One of his favorite memories was moving a whale shark from Taiwan to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. It took a team of 20 people over six months to plan and execute. He also has enjoyed working closely with the Point Defiance team to plan and execute the opening of the Pacific Seas Aquarium.
Neil has seen significant changes in zoos and aquariums over his career, including a greater focus on conservation efforts and programs and increased challenges in acquiring zoo and aquarium animals. Neil will miss his coworkers and the animals and says that all of the staff he has worked with over the years have made the journey memorable for him.
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