Kristen Lukas

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. Lukas is director of conservation and science at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  She oversees a large and diverse international conservation program and is especially committed to the study and conservation of African apes.  She works with staff of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International’s Karisoke Research Center™ to train future conservation scientists in Rwanda and co-founded the Bwindi Apes Conservation Education Partnership in Uganda.  As adjunct assistant professor in biology, Dr. Lukas serves as primary advisor to Ph.D. and M.S. students conducting research at the Zoo.   She works with curators and other Zoo staff to improve scientific animal management and conducts research on the behavior, health, and welfare of a variety of vertebrate species at the Zoo.  Her primary research interests include environmental and behavior, the etiology of abnormal behavior, and factors influencing conservation attitudes.   Within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, she currently serves as Chair of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan®, Vice Chair of the Field Conservation Committee, and a member of the Research and Technology Committee.



Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
4200 Wildlife Way
Cleveland, OH 44118.

Zoo Website:


Selected Publications:

Cless, I.T., Voss-Hoynes, H.A., Ritzmann, R.E., & Lukas, K.E. (Feb, 2015).  Defining pacing quantitatively: A comparison of gait characteristics between pacing and non-repetitive locomotion in zoo-housed polar bears.  In Review.

Fuller, G.A., Lukas, K.E., Kuhar, C.W., & Dennis, P.M. (2014). A retrospective review of mortality in lorises and pottos in North American zoos, 1980-2010.  Endangered Species Research, 23, 205–217.  DOI: 10.3354/esr00568.

Less, E.H., Bergl, R., Ball, R., Dennis, P.M., Kuhar, C.W., Lavin, S.R., Raghanti, M.A., Wensvoort, J., Willis, M.A., & Lukas, K.E. (2014).  Implementing a low-starch biscuit-free diet in zoo gorillas: The impact on behavior.  Zoo Biology, 33(1), 63-73.  DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21116.

Less, E.H., Bergl, R., Ball, R., Dennis, P.M., Kuhar, C.W., Lavin, S.R., Raghanti, M.A., Wensvoort, J., Willis, M.A., & Lukas, K.E. (2014).  Implementing a low-starch biscuit-free diet in zoo gorillas: The impact on health.  Zoo Biology, 33(1), 74-80.  DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21115.

Wark, J.D., Kuhar, C.W., & Lukas, K.E. (2014).  Behavioral thermoregulation in a group of zoo-housed colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza).  Zoo Biology, 33(4): 257-266.  DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21138.

Mueller, J.E., Dennis, P.M., Willis, M.A., Simone, E.A., & Lukas, K.E. (2013).  Seasonal and diurnal variations in African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) behavior in a northern climate zoo.  International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 26, 304-323.

Stoinski, T.S., Lukas, K.E., & Kuhar, C.W.  (2013). Effects of age and group type on social behavior of male western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in North American Zoos.  Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147, 316–323.  DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.07.003.

Ross, S.R., Wagner, K.E., Schapiro, S.J., Hau, J., & Lukas, K.E.  (2011). Transfer and acclimatization effects on the behavior of two species of African great ape (Pan troglodytes and Gorilla gorilla gorilla) moved to a novel and naturalistic zoo environment.  International Journal of Primatology, 32, 99-117.

Ross, S.R., Lukas, K.E., Lonsdorf, E.V., Stoinski, T.S., Hare, B., Shumaker, R., & Goodall, J.  (2008).  Inappropriate use and portrayal of chimpanzees.  Science, 319, 1487.

Lukas, K.E. & Ross, S.R.  (2005).  Zoo visitor knowledge and attitudes towards gorillas and chimpanzees.  Journal of Environmental Education, 36(4), 33-48.

Lukas, K.E., Stoinski, T.S., Snyder, R., Bexell, S., & Burks, K.  (2003). Nest building in captive Gorilla gorilla gorilla.  International Journal of Primatology, 24(1), 103-124.

Lukas, K.E.  (1999).  A review of nutritional and motivational factors contributing to the performance of regurgitation and reingestion in captive lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla).  Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 63(3), 237-249.


Graduate Students

Jason Wark – Advisor Kristen Lukas

I am interested in the effect of the physical environment on the welfare of animals in zoos.  Specifically, I am studying the influence of the sound environment on the behavior and physiology on Callitrichine monkeys, a group of small-bodied New World monkeys.

Austin Leeds – Advisor Kristen Lukas

I am interested in primate social behavior and cognition, and how studying this in a zoo setting can influence animal welfare and management.