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General media inquiries

Julia McHugh, Director of Public Relations
Phone: (805) 569-3303

Location Filming/Photography
Dean Noble, Director of Marketing
Phone: (805) 962-5339, ext. 116

Press Photos

All the sample images below are available as digital files for use with articles about the Santa Barbara Zoo. Digital files can be provided by email or FTP site as jpegs suitable for Web use (72 dpi), or for newspaper or magazine/book use (300 dpi).

To request images: Email Julia McHugh, Public Relations Director.

Please include the name of your publication, the ID numbers for the images you would like to receive, the format (size/resolution of file you need), and delivery option (email or FTP site). We will determine if your request meets our guidelines and respond to your email promptly.

Media FAQs

If you are actively working on a story, the Zoo will waive your admission fee. Contact our Director of Public Relations, Julia McHugh, via email or phone: (805) 569-3303. Alternatively, contact our Director of Marketing, Dean Noble via email or phone: (805) 962-5339, ext. 116.

Julia McHugh, Director of Public Relations: (805) 569-3303 or email your request.

We have a variety of visuals for use by press. For photos, please see below. Please email Julia McHugh, Director of Public Relations or email Dean Noble, Director of Marketing.

We do allow commercial shooting at the Zoo, and we do charge a fee. Fees are determined on a case-by-case basis; see our Filming Guidelines policy. For more information, please email us.

We appreciate your interest in the Zoo! Due to the high number of requests, we can only make tours and staff available for professional press. But please feel free to make use of the information on this website for your project.

Only photographers on professional assignment are allowed free admission, but students may take photos of the animals for project use only; for resale or professional uses, please see our Filming Guidelines. Students must pay admission, unless you are a student at the Brooks Institute. For Brooks Institute students, your instructors may have day passes available; please contact them directly to inquire.

If your nonprofit organization is holding a fundraiser, the Santa Barbara Zoo may be able to help by donating two guest passes to be auctioned or raffled off. More information can be found on the Support page.

Passes for bloggers are granted based on the following criteria. Blog must:

·     Currently have at least 1,000 followers

·     Have been in existence at least one year from date of request

·     Be professionally presented and have significant amount of written content

·     Focus on travel, animals, or parenting

Blog sites are reviewed to ensure that their content is in line with the Zoo’s mission, and requests can be refused on that basis. If accepted, the blogger receives one pass for themselves and one guest pass. Any additional admissions must be paid.



Staff Bios


Rich Block

Chief Executive Officer

  • BS degree, Environmental Studies, Principia College; Elsah, Illinois
  • MS degree, Natural Resource Management, University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan

Joined Zoo staff in 1998 as CEO/Director

  • Member since 1984
  • Conservation Education Committee
  • Roadside Zoo Task Force
  • Wildlife Conservation & Management Committee
  • Member Ethics Board
  • Board Vice President, California Association of Zoos & Aquariums (CAZA)
  • Board President, California Association of Museums (CAM)
  • Member Rotary Club of Santa Barbara
  • Member Advisory Committee, Endangered Species Update (University of Michigan)
  • Former Member Adult Education Curriculum Advisory Committee, Santa Barbara Community College
  • Indianapolis Zoo, Vice President for Science & Program Development
  • World Wildlife Fund, Director of Public Programs/Senior Fellow
  • Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Executive Director
  • Zoo Atlanta, Education Curator
  • Kansas City Zoo, Director of Public Relations
  • University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources & Environment, Instructor/Administrator

Nancy McToldridge

Zoo Director

  • BA degrees, Pre-professional Zoology and Geography, Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Joined Zoo staff as Education Curator in 1982
  • Became Assistant Director in 1988
  • Named COO in 2002
  • Named Zoo Director in 2008
  • Member since 1981
  • 1985 – 1991 Public Education Committee (Chair)
  • 1998 – 2001 Public Relations Committee (Advisor)
  • 1991 – 1994 Publications Review Special Committee
  • 1995 – 1998 Ethics Board (Chair)
  • 1998 – 2004 Charter & By-Laws Committee (Chair)
  • 1999 – 2002 AZA Board of Directors
  • 2000 – 2003 Public Relations Committee
  • 2001 – 2007 Communique Editorial Board
  • 2002 – 2005 Regional Workshop Program Committee
  • 2002 – 2006 National Awareness Campaign Committee (Chair)
  • 2002 – Present Accreditation Commission (Chair 2007-2008)
  • 2014 Mentor in Executive Leadership Development Program
  • Faculty Member, Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Moorpark College
  • Advisory Committee, Andree Clark Bird Refuge
  • Exotic Animal Training and Management Advisory Committee, Moorpark College
  • Interpretive Naturalist, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio State Parks

Julie Barnes, BVSc MSc

Director of Animal Health & Care

  • BVSc (Bachelor of Veterinary Science) (Hons),University of Melbourne, Australia
  • MSc (Master of Science), Wild Animal Health, London Zoo & Royal Veterinary College, University of London
  • Joined Zoo staff as Director of Animal Health in 2011
  • Relief Veterinarian, 2005 – 2011
  • AAZV (American Association of Zoo veterinarians) – member since 2000
  • WDA (Wildlife Disease Association) – member since 2000
  • Published papers in in scientific journals including The Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine and Marine Mammal Science
  • Published book chapter; Medicine of Australian Mammals; Pinnipeds, 2008
  • Taught undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary students from Sydney University, Melbourne University, Western University of Health Sciences, University of California at Davis and other veterinary schools.
  • Relief Veterinarian at Melbourne Zoo (Australia), Healesville Sanctuary (Australia), and Santa Barbara Zoo
  • Clinical Veterinarian at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia; Ocean Park, Hong Kong; and Los Angeles Zoo
  • Campus Veterinarian, UCSB
  • Field veterinarian in Antarctica
  • Conservation projects and recovery programs at Taronga Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, and Santa Barbara Zoo.

Dr. Estelle Sandhaus

Director of Conservation and Science

  • PhD, Psychology (Specialization in Cognition and Brain Science, Minor in Biology), Georgia Institute of Technology; Atlanta, Georgia
  • MS, Psychology (Experimental, Animal Behavior), Georgia Institute of Technology: Atlanta, Georgia
  • BS, Animal Physiology and Neuroscience, University of California at San Diego
  • Joined Zoo staff in 2006 as Conservation & Research Coordinator
  • Became Assistant Director of Conservation & Research in 2008
  • Named Director of Conservation & Research in 2013
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Animal Behavior
  • Animal Welfare
  • Research Associate, Zoo Atlanta

Dr. Aaron Marshall

Director of Education

  • PhD, Experiential Education, University of Edinburgh, (abd) est. 2015
  • MA, Philosophy, Biola University, 2008
  • CA Teaching Credential, Chapman University, 2003
  • BA, Interdisciplinary Studies, George Fox University, 1998
  • Joined Zoo staff, 2013
  • Married on Zoo grounds, 2004
  • Member since 2013
  • Co-Founder, Impact Edventures, 501(c)3 service learning organization
  • Board Member, Active Education Foundation
  • Department Chair, Valor High School, Denver, CO
  • Educator & Aquatics Coach, Various High Schools, California

Rachel Ritchason

Curator, Birds and Records

  • BS, Biology and Captive Wild Animal Behavior, San Francisco State University
  • Joined Staff as a Senior Keeper in July 2007
  • Named Animal Care Coordinator in 2009 and Registrar in 2010
  • Named Curator of Birds and Records in 2012
  • AZA Member since 2002
  • Rhinoceros Hornbill Studbook Keeper and SSP Coordinator
  • Member – Zoological Registrar Association since 2010
  • Professional Development Programs Include: Managing For Success: Career Development, Advanced Avian Program Management, Population Management, Institutional Records Management
  • San Diego Zoo’s Incubation Workshop
  • Volunteer, San Francisco Zoo
  • San Francisco Zoo (San Francisco, California), Animal Keeper – Birds

Michele Green

Curator, Mammals

  • BS, Zoology, University of California at Santa Barbara
  • AA, Biology, Santa Barbara City College
  • Volunteer Keeper, 1997-2000
  • Joined Zoo staff as Keeper, 2000-01
  • Became Senior Keeper, 2005
  • Named Animal Care Supervisor, 2006
  • Named Curator of Mammals, 2008
  • Member since 2001
  • Steering Committee, AZA Pangolin, Aardvark and Xenarthran Taxon Advisory Group(PAX TAG), 2013
  • Wildlife Management Studies Course; Nairobi, Kenya
  • Primate Behavioral and Ecology Research; Cariari, Limon, Costa Rica
  • Happy Hollow Park and Zoo (San Jose, California), Keeper
  • Animal Hospital of Thousand Oaks, Veterinary Assistant

Mark Huelly

Curator, Ectotherms

BS degree, Biology, San Diego State University

  • Joined Zoo staff as Apprentice Keeper in 2007
  • Named Keeper, Ectotherms in 2010
  • Became Senior Keeper, Ectotherms in 2012
  • Named Assistant Curator, Ectotherms in January 2016
  • Became Curator, Ectotherms in May 2016

Member since 2007

  • Member, American Association of Zoo Keepers
  • Founder, Santa Barbara Chapter, FrogWatch USA
  • Zoo Representative for Chelonians, Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group
  • Barbara Heidenreich Animal Training Workshop
  • Volunteer, Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute
  • Volunteer, Ojai Raptor Center