Dr. Joel Parrott received his BS and DVM degrees from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Born in the Adirondack region of New York State, Dr. Parrott spent his high school years in Miami, Florida before moving to Colorado to attend college. Upon graduation from veterinary school, he completed an internship at the Denver Zoo and later went into private practice in Castro Valley, California.
With a specialty in exotic animals, he served as consulting veterinarian for Oakland Zoo until 1984, when he became the Staff Veterinarian and Assistant Director. A year later, he became the Executive Director of Oakland Zoo and has held the title of President & CEO for many years.
Under his direction and management for over three decades, Dr. Parrott is responsible for the grand transformation of Oakland Zoo to what is today. His improvements include an over-arching conservation focus for the Zoo, naturalistic and enlarged animal exhibits, increasing the size of the Zoo from 25 to 100 acres, the creation of the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo, a new state-of-the-art Leed-certified veterinary hospital, and the development and reality of the California Trail expansion.
As an avid conservationist and naturalist, Dr. Parrott views the role of zoos as instrumental to environmental education and conservation of animals in the wild. His transformation of the Oakland Zoo has been outstanding.