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ATASCADERO, Calif. – The City of Atascadero announced Dr. Cynthia Stringfield as its new Zoo Director for its conservation efforts at the Charles Paddack Zoo Monday.

Below is a press release on the newest member of the Charles Paddack Zoo:

The City of Atascadero is thrilled to announce the appointment of our new Zoo Director, Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, to lead our team and ongoing conservation efforts at the Charles Paddock Zoo! After nearly 23 years of dedicated and diligent service, Zoo Director Alan Baker retired in April 2024. Following a nationwide search for our new Zoo Director, Dr. Cynthia Stringfield will assume the leadership role on July 1, 2024.

Dr. Stringfield brings to our Zoo a vast amount of zoological management and leadership experience in conservation, education, animal husbandry, and meeting high care and facility standards for accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Dr. Stringfield is leaving her post as Senior Vice-President of Animal Health, Conservation and Education at ZooTampa, a position she held for nearly five years. She previously served as a tenured professor and Department Chair at Moorpark College, leading the vocational educational program for future animal care professionals for 15 years, as well as participating with the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Animal Care and Health Team for six years. Additionally, Dr. Stringfield brings exceptional prior veterinarian and management experience from her time at the Los Angeles Zoo. During her time with ZooTampa and the Los Angeles Zoo, Dr. Stringfield was critical to the Zoos’ continued accreditation with the AZA.

Throughout her storied career, Dr. Stringfield has made significant contributions to the beloved and endangered California Condors. She worked directly at the forefront of the successful California Condor program, was on the front lines in recovering this species, and was later asked to join the Recovery Team, becoming its only veterinarian. Dr. Stringfield’s veterinary career also includes Small and Exotic Pet practices in Los Angeles, and Marine World Africa USA in Redwood City and in Vallejo as a vet technician. In addition, she is a USFWS Certified critical care veterinarian, served on the board of the Manatee

Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) and as Chair of the Veterinary Committee, and on the Fiscal Committee. Dr. Stringfield’s educational background includes a Doctorate degree from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Zoology from UC Davis, graduating with honors.

“We look forward to Dr. Stringfield continuing the important work our staff members, volunteers, and community organizations have achieved throughout the years,” said City Manager, Jim Lewis. “She has the experience and knowledge to truly make our zoo a regional asset and a center for climate and habitat conservation.  Her passion and expertise is welcome to our team.  The City Council has voiced unanimous support of once again achieving AZA accreditation and guaranteeing our wonderful zoo continues its enormous benefits to residents and visitors in Atascadero and the entire Central Coast.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Dr. Stringfield join our team at the Charles Paddock Zoo!” said Terrie Banish, Director of Community Services & Promotions. “We are looking forward to learning from her wealth of experience, expertise, and guidance to take our Zoo to the next level.”

The Charles Paddock Zoo is the only AZA accredited Zoo within 100 square miles of Atascadero, one of only 238 accredited zoos out of thousands in the United States, and is a leader in conservation, with programs like Saving Animals From Extinction (S.A.F.E.) and ensuring that no animal in the Zoo is taken from the wild. The Charles Paddock Zoo is open daily and located at Atascadero Lake Park on Hwy 41/Morro Road, one mile west of Hwy 101.  For information, go to or call the Zoo at (805) 461-5080.

Charles Paddack Zoo

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