Robert was raised in Wilson, North Carolina but considers Gainsville, Florida to be his hometown. In 2000 he received his first of three degrees, an Associate’s Degree in Science from Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. In 2003 he received an Associate’s Degree in Applied Zoology and an Associate’s Degree in Art, both from Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida. After college Robert explored the zoological world by working with various animals at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia, Jacksonville Zoo in Jacksonville, Florida, and Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, Texas. His love of reptiles became increasingly evident and, in 2012, he joined the Ellen Trout Zoo as the Assistant Collections Manager for the Herpetology department. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to Collections Manager of the Herpetology department and, in May 2023, he became the Collections Manager of the Mammals North department too. At the beginning of 2024, he was once again promoted, this time to General Curator.
Favorite Holiday: Halloween
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Animals: Alligators and crocodiles! Next would be Komodo dragons and giant anteaters.
Favorite Memory: Visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm with my dad every summer. It was the only place I wanted to go when I would spend the summer with him.
Little Known Fact: I would love to be a Vertebrate Paleontologist, or even become a professional dog trainer.
Best Quote: "Take your weapon, strike me down in anger, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete." Emperor Palpatine, Return of the Jedi
Who Inspired You?: Steve Irwin but, thinking back to when I was young, it was Wild Kingdom's Marlin Perkins and Wild America's Marty Stouffer.
Best Advice for Those Wanting to Get Into the Zoo Field: Stick to your guns, stay strong, and never give up. Follow your passion! Always find something positive in what you're doing and hold on to that to fuel your passion.
Toughest Challenge: Overcoming the loss of my parents. Supporting myself financially as I moved around the country following my career, and putting myself through school. Trying to push myself forward as I pursued my zoo career.