Cecil Jackson, Jr.
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Elephant Manager
Cecil has dedicated his 41-year career at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (CZBG) to maintaining the highest standards of care in captive elephant management, focusing on the welfare and safety of both the animals and his staff. He began his zoo career as a seasonal keeper, working in various areas of CZBG, including the Children's Zoo, hoofstock, primate, and elephant departments. It wasn't until 1983 that Cecil started down his path with elephants as a full-time keeper. After establishing himself as a dedicated elephant keeper, Cecil was promoted to the position of Head Elephant Keeper in April 2000, which entailed managing the five Asian elephants in the zoo's collection. Shortly thereafter, Cecil was appointed to Elephant Manager, which earned him the responsibility of overseeing the daily husbandry, enrichment, training, and other aspects of elephant care. Cecil is proud to follow in the footsteps of many dedicated CZBG professionals, including his father, an animal trainer at the Cincinnati Zoo for 50 years.
To further his knowledge of caring for elephants, Cecil became a member of the EMA in 1988 and he is currently a member of the Ethics Committee. Cecil has attended numberous EMA conferences since 1988, participated in the Principles of Elephant Management I & II courses, participated in the EMA Training Workshop, and presented papers at EMA.
The last few years have seen a lot of change in elephant care and management, and Cecil as Elephant Manager has led his team and elephants through this change with great success. Significant achievements include: successful transition from free contact to protected contact, implementation of a formal operant conditioning program with three cows and one bull elephant, expansion of the elephants' enrichment program, development of formal exercise programs for all elephants, and the initiation of the Elephant Welfare Initiative to track and monitor changes in elephant well-being. Overall, Cecil has successfully led CZBG's elephant program to meet and surpass evolving elephant management standards; his practical experience and historical perspective are highly valuable to the future of elephant management in zoos.
Cecil is proud of the program his team and the elephant care community have made in recent years and looks forward to continuing to guide the field forward as part of EMA's Board of Directors. Aside from his professional passions, Cecil is an avid bluegrass performer and enjoys spending time with his family on their 100 acres of land.