The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is pleased to welcome Christopher Hoffman, director of botanical garden, and Seamus Ehrhard, assistant curator of herpetology, to its leadership team. As director of botanical garden, Hoffman will oversee the Zoo’s 140-acres of flowering trees, forested groves, wildflower meadows and the state’s largest butterfly garden. He and his staff will also ensure the Zoo retains its high standards and accreditations through both the American Alliance of Museums and Botanical Gardens Conservation International. As assistant curator of herpetology, Ehrhard will manage the Zoo’s reptile, amphibian, invertebrate and aquatics collections – more than 150 species – under the direction of Dr. Brad Lock, curator of herpetology, aquatics and associated field conservation programs.
Prior to the OKC Zoo, Hoffman owned and operated a landscape architecture firm in Clinton, Mississippi, for 26 years. In addition to earning a degree in landscape architecture from Texas Tech University in 1988, Chris is a licensed Professional Landscape Architect, is certificated by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) and is a full member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
“We are so happy that Chris has joined the OKC Zoo team. With his breadth of experience designing and maintaining large campuses, it’s impossible to imagine anyone more qualified for this position,” said Barry Downer, Zoo deputy director/COO. “Though he’s only been here a short time, his enthusiasm and passion for creating meaningful experiences has already made the Zoo a better place. I’m excited to see how he and his team continue to reimagine and implement the botanical garden masterplan and make the Zoo beautiful for years to come.”
Hoffman has overseen diverse projects including municipal parks, higher education campuses, corporate headquarters, health care facilities and tourism related venues. He is an active member of CLARB, serving as president in 2017, and won the Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources in 2018. His wife, Laura, is director of event services at Mississippi College and will be relocating to Oklahoma City after the current semester ends. The Hoffmans are proud parents of Corbin, 25 and Brooks, 22.
Ehrhard earned his biology degree from Southern Connecticut State University in 2008 and his masters in conservation biology and environmental science from the University of Hawaii in 2016. The 8 years between degrees found Seamus conducting field research in Australia, Hawaii, Guam and Norway, where he spent two years leading raft tours by day and scientific research at night. He has worked with animals for over 15 years, including 9 years at organizations accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Immediately prior to the OKC Zoo, Ehrhard was ectotherms supervisor at Fort Worth Zoo, overseeing 18 employees and 5,000 animals.
“With a background almost as unique as his name, Seamus’s incredibly diverse experience and thoughtful approach to problem solving make him a great addition to the herpetology team,” said Brad Lock, OKC Zoo curator of herpetology, aquatics and associated field conservation programs. “Plus, his field research background, extensive education and familiarity with AZA standards mean we can continue to create top-notch environments and enriching experiences for the animals under our care.”
In addition to being a certified rescue diver, Ehrhard is also a master scuba diver. Seamus and his fiancé Brooke reside in Oklahoma City. He is “pet dad” to his Great Dane, Rottweiler, rescue mutt, one-eyed cat and a half-dozen snakes.