A biography of the zoo's leaders
John Lebert (Curator)
John Lebert grew up with an incredible fascination for animals, particularly exotic reptiles and birds. Following his desire to work with animals, he started his career in 1986 by taking a job at a pet store.
Through personal research and hard work John learned the art and techniques of raising and breeding reptiles and birds. John brings to the GLZS Zoo 25 years of experience in reptile, exotic bird and small animal husbandry and captive breeding. In 1996 John built a facility for captive breeding both reptiles and parrots. Since that time, he has successfully bred 27 species of reptiles and amphibians and 15 species of exotic birds; including boas, pythons, salamanders, monitors & other lizards, macaws, cockatoos, softbills, conures, and various other Psitticines (parrots, hookbills).
John brings tremendous management experience to the zoo, as well. In 1994 John and his wife, Beth, purchased their first pet store, which they have owned and managed until this day. John's philosophy in the pet trade has always put conservation, education, public safety, and animal husbandry first and foremost over revenues. Along these lines, John has participated in educational animal shows in Washtenaw, Livingston, and Lenawee Counties. These shows focus on the importance of conservation and the role of reptiles and birds in the world's ecosystem, how to recognize dangerous animals, and how important it is to not buy inappropriate animals for the home such as large snakes, crocodilians, and venomous snakes and lizards. The main focus in John's store has been to provide to the public only captive born birds, reptiles and small animals many of which were bred in John's facilities.
Mark Creswell (Founder, President of the board)
Mark began his professional career in 1987 at Warner-Lambert's pharmaceutical research division in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While performing research in many therapeutic areas including cardiovascular, antibacterials, oncology, and neuro science, Mark held many positions of increasing responsibility. In 1998, Mark accepted the responsibility of building and managing Warner-Lambert's Discovery Chemistry Outsourcing Program. He and his team pioneered the art of managing a successful outsourcing program that brought tremendous value to Warner-Lambert. Following the Pfizer acquisition of Warner-Lambert, Mark was instrumental in forming a centralized global sourcing team. Following the closure of the Pfizer Ann Arbor facility Mark founded IDSC, a biotech services company offering startup pharmaceutical companies interim leadership, consulting, and outsourcing management services. In June of 2008 Mark founded the Great Lakes Zoological Society and zoo (GLZS-Zoo).
Why did Mark start the GLZS-Zoo? "I love this planet we live on. It is covered with so much beauty, that it just takes one's breath away. I'm very concerned about how fast our rainforests and many other habitats are being destroyed along with the species that inhabit those habitats. I think that conservation of our endangered species is extremely important, and I hope that the GLZS-Zoo can help in a small way to contribute to that conservation. We focus on reptiles and birds and hope to have an impact on preserving animal species both in the wild and in captivity."
Jane Creswell (Founder, Secretary & Treasurer of the board)
Jane graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in business education but took a job at Parke-Davis "for a year or so" instead of teaching. Next thing she knew she was at Parke-Davis when it became part of Warner-Lambert and then became Pfizer. Without leaving the company she ended up working for three companies before leaving 27 years later. She met Mark when the company was still Warner-Lambert. She has always loved nature and animals. She had to work hard to get Mark, a former Texan, to allow the first cat into the house. Since then, things have certainly changed. Mark had to work hard to get Jane to let the first snake into the house and now, well here we are forming a zoo. All the animals have shown us how important all creatures are to our planet and how important it is to help educate people so that we stop losing species to habitat loss and human predation.
Cara Shillington (Scientific Advisory Board)
Dr. Shillington received her B.S. and M.S degrees from Washington State University, and she received her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in 2001. Currently an Associate Professor at Eastern Michigan University Dr. Shillington takes an integrative, field-based, evolutionary approach to studying the physiological ecology of ectothermic organisms, especially arachnids and arthropods (but also including reptiles and amphibians). Her research concerns a variety of interactions between animals and their environments, including ecological energetics, behavioral ecology, thermoregulatory physiology and thermal ecology. Her research at this time centers on potentially adaptive whole-animal functions as expressed in the context of natural habitats including intra- and intersexual variation in energetics of tarantulas, and thermal preferences of a variety of organisms. Other areas of interest include studies of animal behavior, particularly sexual strategies and mating behavior, as well as feeding behaviors and preferences.
David Wooten (Scientific Advisory Board)
David A. Wooten
David is a full-time professor in the biology department at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, MI. He teaches General Biology, Zoology, Biological Field Study, and Human Anatomy & Physiology. David has been involved in herpetoculture since a young age and has over a decade of experience in the retail pet trade. He has academically researched and published studies on venomous snakes, turtles, crocodilians, reptilian ecology, and animal behavior. He was an interpretive guide at the Chippewa Nature Center, Midland, MI where he taught environmental education programs to school groups and adults. He received his BS and MS from Central Michigan University in Biology/Chemistry, and attended the University of Florida for his doctoral work in Zoology. During his graduate work, David found his niche in teaching and withdrew from the research program to return to Michigan and pursue college teaching. His pedagogy incorporates the teaching and application of current research findings, behavioral ecology, and conservation into a critical-thinking college classroom for future biologists.
Brian McEwen (Scientific Advisory Board)
Brian brings both entomology and herpetology expertise to the GLZS. Brian has experience with honey bees, mantids, and rescue and rehab of indigenous turtles.
Dr. Gretchen Hui, DVM (Dr. Hui of Veterinary Medical Center PC provides veterinary care to all the Center's animals)
Dr. Gretchen Hui, DVM
Dr. Hui graduated from MSU with her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in May 2003. Before joining Veterinary Medical Center in May 2009 she worked at a small and exotic animal practice in Ann Arbor for six years. During her time at MSU she gained knowledge about exotic pet medicine and surgery through her work at other universities, zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and by participating in toxicology research with a variety of birds in Uganda. When she is not at her clinic or the conservation center she enjoys spending time with her husband, friends, and trying to keep up with her young daughter and son. The rest of her family includes a two mixed breed dogs, two cats, and a turtle that have all come from various rescue groups in the surrounding area. Her other hobbies include volleyball, hiking, rollerblading, watching college sports, yoga/Pilates, and just about anything that will allow her to be outdoors.