A World of Discovery - Great Lakes Zoological Society Conservation Center and Rescue - A Great Family Destination!

Who We Are

John Lebert (Curator)


John Lebert
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.

Andrea Guibord (Executive Director)


Andrea Guibord

Andrea Guibord has spent the majority of her career strengthening nonprofits with mission drivers including youth development, healthcare and the arts. She majored in business/advertising in 1990 and most recently, returned to school to focus on her true passion: environmental biology. Andrea spent more than 15 years working in managerial and executive positions for a variety of non-profit organizations. While the career path that she fell into was challenging and fulfilling, she spent all of her life yearning to work in the environmental field.

In 2010, Andrea returned to school to focus her studies on ecology and environmental biology, and in 2012, graduated with a B.S in Integrated studies with an environmental biology focus. She plans to continue on and pursue a Masters in fisheries and wildlife.

During her second career as an FSU student, she was challenged with several opportunities for growth and experience. Firstly, a part time job and an internship with a YMCA camp allowed her to delve into the inner workings of a local wetland wherein she created and implemented updated wetland programming.

Secondly, she spent a summer working for the Department of Natural Resources as an educational outreach coordinator. This experience, coupled with strategic biological studies, allowed her to further research one of her greatest passions, the current state of the Great Lakes and her tributaries and the effects of varying invasive species on this important ecosystem, particularly Asian carp of the genus Hypophthalmichthys.

Lastly, she had the tremendous opportunity to work and train under the guidance of a published professor in Ferris State's pharmaceutical research lab. Employed as part of a team who synthesized and purified norel PPAR delta/gamma agonists for Type II diabetes using solid phase synthesis, Andrea was provided with tremendous experience in chromatography, separation and TLC plates for various structures. She became the lead chromatographer, managed the lab, and trained incoming students.

An integrated degree with an ecological and environmental focus coupled with a strong background in non-profit management allows her to bring stability and experience to a fledgling and rapidly growing organization.

Guibord has experience in growing local grass roots organizations and has also regionally managed national nonprofits including City of Hope National Medical Center and the American Lung Association. Andrea is a graduate of Ferris State University.

Megan Sanderson (Educational Outreach Coordinator)


Megan Sanderson
Megan graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Zoology, concentrating in zoo and aquarium sciences. She has always been passionate about animals but it wasn't until she watched an educational program at the Shedd Aquarium that she realized her true career focus: to educate and connect people of all ages to animal conservation issues. While at MSU, she volunteered with education departments in zoos and nature centers as well as interning and working in various captive animal settings. Megan worked in the Animal Behavior Department collecting animal welfare data pertaining to the agricultural industry, while also assisting in teaching an undergraduate course. While interning at the Toledo Zoo, she lead educational programs teaching the importance of zoo behavior research and enrichment. She was also published in the Animal Keeper's Forum for her research evaluating different types of enrichment on the well-being of captive otters.

Upon graduating, Megan took a job as a zookeeper at the Pueblo Zoo in Colorado. While in this position, she continued to develop her knowledge of animal care for a wide range of species. As a head keeper, she loved caring for her animals but also strived to connect with zoo guests through educational programs and volunteering in the Education department. She eventually moved back to Michigan and began working in the Primate Department at the Detroit Zoo. This setting allowed her to not only expand her knowledge of zoo animal care, but presented her with the platform to educate guests through daily keeper talks and presentations. It also re-directed her career focus, being a voice for the animals she worked with and their wild counterparts around the world.

Regardless of the organization or position, Megan has strived to inspire people to be passionate about animal care and welfare in all types of settings. She has continued her education by attending conferences focusing on zoo welfare and conservation at various institutions. She brings her experiences gained from working in multiple zoos and wildlife centers, focusing on animal behavior and welfare as an educator, researcher, zookeeper and overall advocate for animals. She enjoys connecting with zoo visitors to share her passion for creating healthy environments and understanding the impacts our actions can have on animals in zoos, in the wild and at home.

Sara McCune (Development Assistant)


Sara McCune
Sara McCune graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a degree in journalism/mass communications and a minor in political science. She came to Ann Arbor to pursue a degree in modern Middle East and North African studies at the University of Michigan, and after graduating she landed an internship in the development department at ACCESS. After her internship ended, she began volunteering as a grant writer for the Great Lakes Zoological Society, and was hired a few months later. She has since been responsible for a variety of tasks, including grant writing, data management, event planning, volunteer coordination, and marketing.

Allison Long (Operations Associate)


Allison Long
Allison graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's of science degree in Zoology, with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. Some of her favorite subjects were vertebrate anatomy, ecology of animal behavior and genetics. During school, she worked in a veterinary research lab working with horses and studying the relationship between bone density in the foot and diseases related to lameness. While she found lab and research work to be very interesting, she had long planned to be able to use her experience as an animal enthusiast and her degree to work in the field of animal husbandry and zoo keeping.

For as long as she can remember, Allison has had various types of pets. She has kept many smaller species such as anoles, geckos, scorpions, and ball pythons as well as dogs, cats, fish and small mammals. As a child, Allison aspired to be an exotic vet and work at an exotic animal rescue. While over time her career focus has changed, she is very happy to be realizing the dream of working at a rescue and conservation center.

Allison started out with the Great Lakes Zoological Society as an animal husbandry volunteer. She soon became a part of the zoo keeper team, and has worn many job-title hats along the way. She is currently the Operations Associate and handles much of the supplies, facility and staff needs. She also works with the Curator, John Lebert, in running the adoption and surrender program, finding homes for unwanted pets and animals in need. Allison says that it is very rewarding when you find a home for an animal, and see it get to go to a good home.

Jan Zuidveld (Head Keeper), Melissa Goodrich (Keeper)


Melissa Goodrich

Jan Zuidveld
Our head zoo keeper Jan Zuidveld brings years of hands-on reptile keeping experience. He oversees the daily care of the animals at the Great Lakes Zoological Society and our animal husbandry volunteers. He has large snake keeping experience, and is in charge of diets and feeding of our facilities boas, pythons and other snakes. Jan works with our curator John to create and maintain a daily animal care routine, environment and diets to provide the best care for our animals.

Melissa Goodrich brings a wide variety of experience and her endless enthusiasm to the GLZS team as a zoo keeper. She works with Jan and our volunteers to provide the necessary daily care and feeding for the animals. She also works with Sara McCune and the zoo's events board to help plan and run special events at the zoo.

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.


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.

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.

Founders

The Great Lakes Zoological Society was founded by Mark and Jane Creswell in 2008 after becoming aware of the number of reptile and amphibian pets that were surrendered or improperly cared for. After several years of caring for a large number of unwanted pets, the couple opened the World of Discovery in 2011. Their goal was to educate the community by promoting conservation and coexisting with wildlife while serving as a rescue and rehabilitation center for reptiles and amphibians.