Our History

Zootopia was born out of a deep passion and love of animals and the desire to share that with others.  I’ve always been surrounded by animals.  Growing up in a tract house in Ventura California did not stop my parents from giving us the full experience of the animal world.  From the dogs, turtles, fish and hamsters that lived in the house to the rabbits, ducks, chickens and geese that lived in our backyard I loved them all.  If the small zoo in our tract house was not enough, when I was 10, my grandparents purchased raw land in Utah and decided to build a ranch (with their own hands… in their 70s!!  You can see where I get my big bold ideas).  I spent every summer in Utah at the ranch and the animal adventures continued.

My biggest adventure on the ranch was training and breaking the 4 month old wild mustang that my grandmother bought me.  She said, “You have to go make friends with the horse, Carrie”.  It sounded like an OK idea to me, so with alfalfa in hand and in a sweet voice I coaxed, “Here horsey, horsey, horsey”.  I loved it. What Fun!

As time passed, I continued to learn and expand my experience in the animal industry.  From my grandparent’s ranch, I began volunteering at the local vet hospital when I was 15.  At sixteen I discovered a desire to work with and own exotic animals.  I quickly came to the conclusion that owning animals for my own pleasure would be selfish and unfair.  I then started to think, “How can I help balance the two worlds of humans and animals?” I realized that I could teach others about the animals that I so loved, and by teaching them, give back to the animals.

Volunteering at the age of fifteen lead to starter jobs at Veterinary hospitals which further lead to going to college for an AS degree in Veterinary Nursing.  After 8 years in hospitals I returned to studying at America’s Teaching Zoo to attend the Exotic Animal Training and Management program (EATM).  There I received an AS degree in Zookeeping, Wildlife Education and Animal Training.

Two years after graduating I took a position as a staff member for the Junior Safari Day Camp Program at the same zoo.  After the first week of camp I was hooked.  It became very clear to me very fast that this is what I had wanted to be doing since I was a teenager.  Hence, the beginning of Zootopia!

Carrie Sylvester

carrie wolf carrie cougar carrie owl