Meet the Zoo Team

Zoo Director

John Wright

John WrightWhat drew you to this career? What interested me with the zoo was mainly that no day is the same as the next. There's also the ability to be part of the community, the ability to help out animals and promote conservation. Those are some of the things that drew me.

What is your favorite animal? I have a fondness for giraffes and hoofstock.

Who is your favorite animal at Spring River Zoo? The keeper staff.

How did you get to Roswell? I grew up in Kansas City, and worked in a variety of other zoos as a director and curator. Most recently, I was a curator at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Salt Lake City. COVID obviously hit our industry, and I was fortunate enough to find this opening, apply and get it.

Favorite quote: I have a couple. First one is, "If you're on time, you're late." Also, my dad always taught me, "Be lazy by doing it right the first time."

Zookeepers 

Andrea Cole, Zoo Curator

andrea photoWhat drew you to this career? I’ve always loved being around animals as a kid, and I knew I wanted to work in a career with animals. In my junior year of high school, I started volunteering at this zoo and found how passionate I am about critters and the joy of educating kids about how amazing animals are.

What is your favorite animal? Any critter in the Procyonidae family. Raccoon and coatimundi are among my favorite in this family.

Who is your favorite animal at Spring River Zoo? Harley the raccoon, he was one of the first critters I hand-raised when I started at the zoo. Since then raccoons have been my favorite critter.

How did you get to Roswell? I’m from Roswell. I’ve lived here my entire life.

What else should we know? I have two dogs named Copper and Pixie and one cat named Toro. I enjoy reading, outdoor adventures and hanging out with my friends.

Favorite quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. Every individual matters.” – Jane Goodall


renee fair(jpg)

Renee Fair, Zoo Educator

What drew you to this career? Growing up, I would sit in front of the TV and watch Steve Irwin on Animal Planet for hours. His enthusiasm for even the "scariest" of animals inspired me to learn. 

What is your favorite animal? My favorite animal is the grey wolf! I did spend a few years studying raccoon cognition so they hold a special place in my heart as well.

Who is your favorite animal at the zoo? I love Bret, the mountain lion. Our ball python, Slither, and I get along really well. 

How did you get to Roswell? I'm a bit of a traveler. I've lived in the Midwest most of my life, but fell in love with Wyoming and the rest of the mountain west. I had just gotten back from living in St. Andrews, Scotland when I accepted the job here in Roswell! 

What else should we know? I have a Bachelor's in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management and a Master's of Science in Animal Behavior.


Kristen Gallegos, Zookeeper

What drew you to this career? I've always loved animals. I was raised on a faKristen Gallegosrm, so taking care of animals has been second nature to me.

What is your favorite animal? Chimpanzees

What is your favorite animal at Spring River Zoo? Ophelia the White-Tailed deer. Her personality is so sweet. Every time I'm feeling stressed, I go to her pen.

How did you get to Roswell? My boyfriend and I moved to Artesia. I live in Artesia, and commute every day.

What else should we know? I'm a mom of three. I have a little farm of my own at home. 


Ayrin Meeks, Zookeeper

ayrin photoWhat drew you to this career? When I was 5 years old, I was watching Animal Planet and a tiger came on the screen and I knew then that’s what I wanted to do. I want to help save endangered animals, teach others about animals, and increase my knowledge and experience of working with exotic animals.

What is your favorite animal? Bret, our mountain lion. He is the first big cat species that I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with Bret for two years and it still excites me to work with him. Q, our Chihuahuan raven. Sadly she passed away this summer, but she was my best friend. I loved working with her because she was funny, curious, intelligent and loved to be around people.

How did you get to Roswell? I was born and raised in Roswell. I grew up coming to this zoo.

What else should we know? I have a degree in zoology from Western New Mexico University. I enjoy reading, going to Disneyland and going to concerts. I have my own mini zoo at home consisting of two dogs, three cats, a hedgehog, a guinea pig, two rats and two mice. Loving and caring for animals is a lifestyle.

Favorite quote:  “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France

Cori Villers, Zookeeper

Cori VillersWhat brought you to the zoo? I’ve been working with animals ever since I was young. What brought me to this specific zoo was they took a chance on me, and it’s a little challenging to find a zoo career. I interned at a previous zoo, fell in love with the zoo world and here I am.

What is your favorite animal? My favorite animals of all time would probably be giraffes or sea otters.

What’s your favorite animal at Spring River Zoo? If I had to choose one animal at this zoo, it would probably be the ring-tailed lemurs. I love how resourceful they are. I love watching them do their thing, whether that’s climbing around or making their barking noise.

Favorite quote: “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, ‘I’m possible.’” – Audrey Hepburn.


Amy Youngren, Zookeeper

Whaamy photot drew you to this career? I was drawn to zookeeping because I love the fun and challenge of working with animals.

What is your favorite animal? My all-time favorite animal is the orangutan.

Who is your favorite animal at Spring River Zoo? I don’t have a favorite at the zoo, I love them all! That being said, I really enjoy working with our pot-bellied pig Kevin because he is so full of joy, and he is very intelligent and eager to learn.

How did you get to Roswell? I moved from Washington state.

What else should we know?I have a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Washington State University. I enjoy kayaking and hiking with my canine son Dax. I also love to travel with Dax and explore new places in nature; we have been to every state in the U.S. and most Canadian provinces.

Maintenance & Operations Team

Scott Sherwood

Scott Sherwood

Maintenance/Operations Supervisor

Maria Buendia

Maria Buendia

Gary James

Gary James