Rebecca Stites, Ph.D., is an animal keeper for the Great Cats & Bears Unit at the Smithsonian National Zoo, where she is primarily responsible for the husbandry, training, and enrichment programs for the Zoo’s African lions, caracals, bobcats, and white nosed coatis, and secondary keeper of the Sumatran tigers, among other animals.
She has a profound interest studying stress reduction in zoo carnivores through the use of enrichment and behavior training programs, and believes these areas of husbandry are as important to an animal’s welfare as veterinary and nutritional care. Rebecca is also an active member of the Felid Taxon Advisory Group (Felid TAG), through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), serving as the Bobcat Species Survival Plan’s program leader for Zoo’s in North America.
As the program leader, her primary duty is to facilitate the placement of non-releasable bobcats between rescue facilities and Zoo’s.
Prior to working with Great Cats & Bears, Rebecca earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree from Virginia Tech in 2004. She received her first position at the National Zoo in 2005, as an animal keeper for the Zoo’s Department of Animal Health (veterinary hospital and quarantine facility). While working full-time at the Zoo, Rebecca earned her Master’s Degree, studying Zoo Collections Management, from George Mason University.