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

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Jarrod Willis

Jarrod is a Biologist for the Steinhart Aquarium.


Briefly describe your job and your area of expertise. I work primarily with the reptiles and amphibians in the aquarium. My main tasks include caring for the animals in Africa Hall and the herps on the Borneo level of the rainforest. I am also the primary trainer for the Turkey Vulture.

What got you interested in becoming a biologist? I grew up around animals. My dad’s hobbies were breeding horses and pigeons. However, I was always much more interested in wildlife than in domestic animals.

What do you like most and least about your job? Most: That I get to work with and interact with animals from all over the world. Least: Some of the exhibits pose challenges in that they can only be accessed from public space and so must be serviced before we are open. It can make for a hectic morning.

What college did you go to and what degree did you receive? Saint Mary’s College (Moraga, CA) BS Biology

What influenced your job choice and when? CAS offered the opportunity to work in a brand new facility with many species with which I hadn’t previously worked.

Do you have pets at home? What and how many? I have two snakes. A Ball Python and a Ruthven’s Kingsnake

Advice for someone wanting to go into your field. I always tell people that ask two things: Get a degree. It’s becoming increasingly harder to get into any field without one. Volunteer. Any experience you can get is valuable, whether it’s at a zoo, aquarium, vet office, horse stables, etc. You typically need experience to get into the field and when you’re first starting out, volunteering is the best way to get it.

More about Jarrod


Jarrod’s Suggested Reading:

“Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians” by Robert C. Stebbins, 2003 (Houghton Mifflin Company).

“Snakes” by Harry W. Greene, 1997 (University of California Press).

“Hawks, Eagles, & Falcons of North America” by Paul A. Johnsgard, 1990 (Smithsonian Institution Press).

“Don’t Shoot the Dog! Revised Edition” by Karen Pryor, 1999 (Bantam Books).