Megan Owen, M.S.

Associate Director

Megan Owen serves the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research as an associate director in the division of Applied Animal Ecology. In this position, she oversees conservation and research programs for bear species, including giant pandas and polar bears.

Her research focuses on how human disturbance impacts the behavior and well-being of bears. Specific projects address the sensory ecology of bears and aim to illuminate how different modalities of communication support successful reproduction, from breeding to maternal care. Additionally, she is interested in how climate change may impact animals in disturbed habitats, as the synergy between climate change and local disturbance has the potential to amplify the impact of either factor alone. Ms. Owen is also interested in the behavioral and physiological expressions of stress in bear species, and her research has emphasized the need to incorporate zoo bears into research programs that support conservation programs in the wild. 

Megan Owen joined the San Diego Zoo in 1997 as the data analyst for the Giant Panda Conservation Program. She has had several research positions at the Zoo before her promotion to conservation program specialist in 2007 and associate director in 2013.

Ms. Owen graduated with honors from the City College of New York in 1992, with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She continued her studies and received a master’s degree in biology (ecology, evolution, and behavior) in 1994. She is the recipient of a number of grants and has authored or contributed to both scientific and popular publications. Ms. Owen is a member of the Society for Conservation Biology, International Bear Association, Acoustical Society of America, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), for which she is a behavior advisor for the Giant Panda Species Survival Plan.