Feb. 18, 2021–Joel Hamilton / Executive Director–Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Alabama’s Gulf Coast Zoo

Bio – Joel M. Hamilton

Mr. Hamilton joined the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo with a long history of zoo-related work.  Prior to moving to Gulf Shores, Joel served as the Vice President and General Curator of the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans. In this leadership role, Mr. Hamilton managed the animal collections of Audubon Zoo and the Freeport McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center providing guidance and direction to all animal care staff.  Prior to his work with Audubon, Mr. Hamilton worked for many years as a licensed landscape architect designing a variety of animal facilities and served as the Zoo Director of Salisbury Zoological Park from 2008 to 2012 where he directed overall operations, increased park visitation, and improved community support.  He received his master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington after earning degrees in biology and exotic animal training and management.  Joel has been a bird keeper and the Supervisor of Birds at the Dallas Zoo.  Joel also worked at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, in Providence, Rhode Island, as the Curator of Australasia and Tropical America. 

Some of Joel’s favorite zoo memories are of his participation in field conservation projects.  He delivered the Dallas Zoo’s first Andean condor egg to the Los Angeles Zoo for inclusion in the Condor Project.  He lived in a tent for a month in the Amazon forest of Peru while collecting data for a population study of understory birds.  Joel also traveled to Cuba to assist with a field population census of the Cuban Amazon parrot and the Cuban crane.

Joel enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.  Traveling, observing wildlife and experiencing the world around us are important past-times.  As an avid fly fisherman, a fly rod is never far from his reach!

Mr. Hamilton is excited to join the Gulf Coast team and glad to be your new Executive Director!  With more than thirty years of experience as a zoo professional, Mr. Hamilton is passionate about educating guests about wildlife conservation and the environment.