About the Author
Originally from the Orlando metropolitan area, Grayson Ponti first became passionate about conservation as a child when learning about the Disney Conservation Fund on visits to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the SeaWorld-Busch Gardens Conservation Fund when going to camp at SeaWorld Orlando. This passion was further enriched by visits on zoos and aquariums on vacations, reading the writings of Jane Goodall and Bernhard Grzimek and working as a teen volunteer at the Central Florida Zoo.
While attending Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, Grayson’s passion for environmental education and advocacy was expressed by leading trips at a local nature center and taking part in environmental activism campaigns. He also fell in love with education while volunteering at a local elementary school and working at a writing camp. During this time, seeing campaigns such as the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Zoos Victoria’s Fighting Extinction strengthened his belief zoos and aquariums had great potential to facilitate social change and empower conservation action. Grayson also continued to visit as many zoos and aquariums as possible, often planning trips just around visiting them (he has been to 79 worldwide as of October 2018.)
After graduating from Kenyon College in 2017, Grayson’s interest in zoo and aquarium history led to him creating Zoophoria, a blog featuring conversations with hundreds of past and present luminaries in the field. After serving in an Americorps educational program in Washington DC, he began his professional career in zoos and aquariums as a seasonal educator at SeaWorld Orlando in 2018. This gave Grayson firsthand experience interpreting live animals to connect the heart to teach the mind in guests and empower them to live sustainably with wildlife. He is excited to expand on what he learned at SeaWorld by taking the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Conservation Education Course in winter 2019. In June 2018, Grayson’s article on the role aquariums play in the sea turtle cold stunning process made the cover page of AZA's Connect magazine. In fall 2018, he was invited to join the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Advocate program, working to build a rapport with elected officials and engaging them with environmental priorities to consider in their public duties.
Grayson is a true believer in the transformative powers of zoos and aquariums to mobilize social movements of change and facilitate conservation action. He is committed to helping zoos and aquariums make a difference as an educator and advocate in the profession.
This site is dedicated to the memory of Mike Dee and Mike Hutchins, two great supporters of zoo conservation and this project.