Maureen Leahy

Animal Care and Horticulture
Vice President
  • B.A. – Anthropology, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana

Areas of Expertise

  • Animal care and welfare
  • Behavioral husbandry
  • Zoo exhibit design


Maureen has more than 25 years of experience working at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She began her career at Lincoln Park Zoo in 2007 as the zoological manager of primates, followed by seven years as the curator of primates. In that time, she has collaborated on internal and external research initiatives with the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, helped guide exhibit design for the zoo’s state-of-the-art Regenstein Macaque Forest, and served a critical role in AZA animal programs as an advocate for primates through her involvement in the Gorilla Species Survival Plan® and Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group.

In 2017, Maureen was appointed vice president of animal care and horticulture. In this role, she oversees strategic, operational, and programmatic initiatives for these teams, including the Animal Welfare Science Program. Maureen is passionate about advancing animal care and management practices, and bringing scientists and Animal Care staff together in their work to evaluate and enhance the well-being of every animal and to promote positive animal welfare in zoos. She is committed to the growth and development of the zoo’s Horticulture program and accredited arboretum, and adheres to the same rigorous science-based approaches for both plants and animals. Maureen also serves as project lead on the design and construction of the new Pepper Family Wildlife Center.


  • Alba, A. C., Ferrie, G. M., Schook, M. W., Leahy, M., & Cronin, K. A. (2023). Gender and age, but not visual context, impact wildlife attitudes and perceptions of animals in zoos. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens, 4(1), 118–131.
  • Cronin K, Martens A, Ness T, Leahy M, Ross S. 2020. Sex and season predict wounds in zoo-housed Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata): A multi-institituional study. Zoo Biology, In Press.
  • Jacobson S, Hopper L, Shender M, Ross S, Leahy M, McNernie J. 2016. Zoo visitors’ perceptions of chimpanzee welfare are not affected by the provision of artificial environmental enrichment devices in a naturalistic exhibit. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, Vol. 5, 56-61.
  • Jacobs R, Ross S, Wagner K, Leahy M, Meiers S, Santymire R. 2014. Evaluating the physiological and behavioral response of a male and female gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) during an introduction. Zoo Biology, 33(5), 394–402.
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