About the ‘Almost Anthropologist’

Hi, I’m Alison! I write about human-wildlife coexistence and human relationships with nature.

I am a self-proclaimed ‘almost anthropologist’ because I ALMOST read, think, and write like an anthropologist…but not quite. I love anthropology and have two degrees in it, but I am also interested in wildlife conservation, environmental education, religion, writing, yoga, mindfulness and more. Sometimes my perspective tends more toward the spiritual/creative realm than the scientific.

As an educator I have taught school, environmental, and zoo programs for ages 2-14. I am the Education Associate at The Clifton Institute, an environmental non-profit organization in northern Virginia. I am also a World Wildlife Fund Panda Ambassador, a member of the Youth Education Committee for the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, and a certified National Geographic Educator.

As a writer, I am working on a children’s book about an interspecies primate friendship with a conservation message. I am also writing a nonfiction book about the Silver River macaques in central Florida, and I dabble in haiku. I encourage people to write about their encounters with wildlife and share the result on social media with the hashtag #leaveonlypoetry.

As a student of anthropology I have studied the crop feeding behavior of moor macaques (Macaca maura) in Indonesia, infant development and parental care in captive mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz), and the maintenance of cultural and religious identity within a Thai Buddhist community in Tampa, Florida. Here is a list of my academic publications:

Zak, Alison A. & Erin P. Riley
2017 Comparing the Use of Camera Traps and Farmer Reports to Study Crop Feeding Behavior of Moor Macaques (Macaca maura). International Journal of Primatology 38(2): 224-242.

Zak, Alison A.
2017 History of Primatology in Southeast Asia. In International Encyclopedia of Primatology, edited by Agustin Fuentes, Wiley Blackwell Publishers.

Riley, Erin P. & Alison A. Zak
2015 The Conservation Impact of the American Society of Primatologists’ Conservation Small Grant Program. Primate Conservation 29: 1-7.