November 12, 2010
Meet the New Director of the Fund for Animals Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Ali Crumpacker traveled from South Africa to San Diego to take her new job
Last summer, Ali Crumpacker spent 12 hours a day riding on the back of a Jeep in South Africa, tracking lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and other wild creatures at the De Beers Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve.
Her international tour as a volunteer wildlife conservation researcher ended in September, and she returned to her home in San Diego, California. Crumpacker had just four days to recuperate before her next adventure: Taking over as the new director of the Fund for Animals Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Ramona, California—one of five animal care centers operated by The Humane Society of the United States.
Naps are for cats
Instead of watching the pride of seven wild lions she’d been privileged to observe in South Africa, she now helps look after Sansom, the Wildlife Center’s resident lion, and Sheba, the resident mountain lion—both rescued from the entertainment industry.
These California cats have something in common with their wild African brethren, Crumpacker says: Like all cats, they like mostly to lie around and nap.
Crumpacker, on the other hand, is in constant motion at the 13-acre facility in Northern San Diego County. She takes over for long-time Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Directors Chuck and Cindy Traisi, who retired after 25 years.
Caring for coyotes
The center is licensed as a wildlife shelter, and cares for native and non-native wild animals that have been confiscated by the California Department of Fish and Game. This summer, Crumpacker relates, the center took in a coyote who someone illegally kept and tried to raise as a pet dog. The man was caught when he brought the coyote to a pet store to buy treats, and he is scheduled to go on trial soon.
The coyote spent a month at the center. But since he is too familiar with humans ever to be safely released back into the wild, center staff found him a new home at the Moonridge Zoo.
This fall, one main order of business has been releasing orphaned coyotes back into the wild. The center’s staff and volunteers have been caring for 24 pups until they’ve grown strong enough to be released—so far, about half have been returned to the wild, and the rest will go soon.
“I’ve always been around animals”
A New Jersey native who has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education in Southern California since 2006, Crumpacker says her two immediate priorities at the center are beefing up the volunteer corps and renovating some of the animal enclosures.
She’s well prepared for her new job: Crumpacker holds a masters degree in Zoologic Administration from George Mason University and a bachelors in Environmental Studies from Ramapo College.
“I’ve always been around animals,” Crumpacker says. “I grew up on a farm in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and we always had goats and chickens and horses. The family pastime was to go hiking in our back yard and look at wild things.”
She worked at a drive-through safari theme park and at zoos and nature centers, then landed a job as director of wildlife services at San Diego-based Project Wildlife in October 2006. She left that job in June 2010 to volunteer at the wildlife preserve in South Africa.
Ali and her husband, John, live in San Diego with their six pets—a dog, three cats, and two parrots—all of them rescues.
Did you know that The HSUS manages five animal care centers? Learn about HSUS animal care centers»
The HSUS is one of the largest and most diverse providers of direct animal care in the country. Our centers in Texas, Florida, California, Oregon, and Massachusetts provide relief and protection for sick, injured, abused, and abandoned animals. Learn more about our animal care centers.