Name: Jeannette Beranger
Occupation: Animal expert, field researcher, rare breed conservator, photographer, chicken nut
Place of Residence: central North Carolina
Background: Jeannette’s animal experience began in her teen years as a volunteer at the New England Aquarium in Boston, where she helped care for the residents of the tanks and lectured visitors about aquatic animals and on various sea creatures while aboard the aquarium’s whale-watch boat. She started a track toward becoming a veterinarian, and while in college, worked as a veterinary technician to help pay for school.
Jeanette’s life took a slightly different turn when she was recruited out of school to become a professional zookeeper for the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI. During her nearly 20 years there, she became a head zookeeper in charge of the Madagascar, Australasia, and the Heritage Farmyard where she gained much of her practical experience with a wide array of rare breeds. She had numerous opportunities for field experience outside of the zoo, including several months in Madagascar helping with lemur conservation programs at the National Zoo in Antananarivo.
Jeanette became head of international outreach programs for the American Association of Zookeepers and helped to create the first International Congress on Zookeeping in 2003 in Amsterdam. By 2005, she found herself talking more about her Dexter cattle and Shetland sheep than her tree kangaroos and lemurs at the zoo and knew that perhaps it was time to retire from zookeeping.
She followed her passion for rare breed conservation which led her to The Livestock Conservancy as their Senior Programs Manager. She is the primary field person working directly with farmers, scientists, and enthusiasts to discover and conserve endangered breeds while cultivating a new generation of rare breed stewards. In the field, she is an avid photographer photo-documenting and videotaping the animals and people she meets along the way. At home, she practices what she preaches by raising and breeding the largest U.S. flock of critically endangered Crèvecœur chickens.
Current Projects: Chicks in the Classroom Initiative, Crèvecœur chicken recovery project, rare breed swine conservation initiative, national livestock census, Marsh Tacky and Choctaw horse conservation projects, Choctaw hog rescue, rare breed photo and video project
Other Fun Facts: Jeanette and her husband were married in a grass hut on the “Plains of Africa” exhibit at the Roger Williams Zoo.
She was inspired early in her zoo career to work with rare breed livestock after reading the book Good Breeding which features images of livestock and their owners by the famous photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
More Places to Find Jeanette:Growing a Greener World (PBS)