Jennifer Ortega spent more than a decade working her way through the news industry, first as a writer at her hometown paper in Boca Raton, and then as a reporter and anchor in television markets across the country.
There were stops in Florida, Mississippi, Nebraska and most recently in California, where she could be seen nightly on KSEE24 and CBS47.
But Ortega said goodbye to the stations in December to pursue a different career path; one with substantially more animals, but a few journalists still.
She is now working as Senior Communications Manager with the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
“I’m a lifelong lover of wild places and wild things,” Ortega told The Bee on Tuesday.
“I’ve gotten to a place in my career where I’m ready for a change, and the obvious choice for me was the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.”
As a child in south Florida, Ortega says she always loved caring for animals. She remembers her childhood dog Prince — and convincing her parents to get him a friend because she thought he was lonely and needed company.
“One day,” Ortega says, “they surprised me with a female dog. It wasn’t long after we got her that she had puppies.
“That was the moment my love for animals flourished.”
With the zoo, Ortega will get to share insights that guests might not know, like the fact that the Chaffee Zoo is the largest wildlife conservation organization in the Valley and a prominent institution among other AZA-accredited zoos.
“Families know it’s a great place to visit,” Ortega says.
“They know it’s an amazing time to feed a giraffe and play with a sting ray. But what they don’t realize is that there is actual wildlife conservation work going on right here in this community,” she says.
“I look forward to talking to every journalist along the way so that we can tell those stories together. “