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Joan Embery


Spirit of the Women's Hall of Fame

Joan Embery was born in San Diego in 1949 and enjoyed a childhood camping under the stars, hiking the canyons and watching sunsets. Joan specialized in zoology and telecommunications at San Diego State University and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication at Eastern Illinois University. Although allergic to animals and afraid of bugs, Joan trained and handled some of the world's rarest and most unusual animals, from aardvarks to zebras. She also championed environmental, conservation and preservation issues around the world. Joan became a spokeswoman for the Zoological Society of San Diego (which includes the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park). She educated the public about wildlife and the environment through television appearances, radio interviews, speaking engagements and animal presentations. Her love for wildlife took her to Africa, China, Nepal, India, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Thailand and the Amazon. She admittedly enjoyed traveling to all parts of the world to observe animals in their natural habitats. Additionally, Joan served on numerous boards that focused on conservation and wildlife issues, such as Morris Animal Foundation, Wildlife Health Center School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, San Diego River Park Foundation, Anza-Borrego Foundation, Project Wildlife (advisory board), Blue Sky Community Foundation, and as a participant or instructor for Envirovet.

Prestigious awards recognized her dedication to animals and the environment. She authored four books on these topics: My Wild World, Amazing Animal Facts, On Horses, and The Good Dog Book. In 2004 Joan established The Embery Institute for Wildlife Conservation with the hope of connecting people to wildlife and conservation issues and making people aware of the role each individual plays in ensuring healthy environments. Embery suffered a stroke in 2016 and worked with physical therapists to return to her favorite activities.

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