55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

Please note: The Academy will be closing at 3:00 pm on 10/24 (final entry at 2:00 pm). We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Brenda Melton

Brenda is the Curator for the Steinhart Aquarium.


Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise. I manage a great team of biologists who care for the Rainforest, Swamp, Natural History Museum, African Hall and Raptor exhibits.  I have a particular interest in birds, but enjoy working with and learning about a wide variety of taxa.

What got you interested in working at an aquarium? Over the years I have gravitated towards raptors, penguins, psittacines and neo-tropical animals as some of my “favorite” animals to work with, as both an animal keeper and curator.   The opportunity to play an integral role in crafting exhibitry and collections in these areas and beyond in a brand new, state of the art facility was in perfect alignment with my career ambitions.

What do you like most and least about your job?  I have the privilege of working with an amazing team of people to create and cultivate our living exhibits.  My position allows me to still get dirty from time to time and my day is dynamic.  I never accomplish everything I’d like to in one day.

What college did you go to and what degree did you receive?  University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  B.S. in Biology, Zoology emphasis, minors in Captive Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology.

What influenced your job choice and when?  In high school I participated in trail restoration in Northern California with the Student Conservation Association.  I knew at that point I wanted to work in the great outdoors or with animals, so in college I learned about both.   After college I worked as a field biologist first then settled into professional captive animal care.

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? One cat and two freshwater fish.

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field. Obtain a college degree related to the profession.  It has become a necessity to qualify for positions in this field.  In addition, volunteer and intern in a variety of relevant areas and be dependable, hard-working and pleasant.  Learn all you can from the people you work with and build up your skill sets.

More about Brenda


Selected Articles and Publications

Melton, B, V. McCloskey, R. Orlando. “Management and Treatment of Avian Chlamydiosis in a captive Magellanic Penguin Colony at the San Francisco Zoo.” Animal Keepers Forum 2006, 33 (12): 533-540.


Brenda’s Suggested Reading:

“Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in our Time” by Jonathan Weiner, 1994 (Vintage Books).

“A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold, 1949 (Ballantine Books)

“Hand-Rearing Birds” by Laurie J. Gage, DVM and Rebecca S. Duerr, DVM, 2007 (Blackwell Publishing).

“Penguins” by Lloyd Spencer Davis and Martin Renner, 2003 (Yale University Press).

“Don’t Shoot the Dog!” by Karen Pryor, 2002 (Cox & Wyman Ltd.).