Wildlife Prairie Park Animal Staff

The animal staff at Wildlife Prairie Park is an important aspect of our staff. Learn more about each of the individuals who work hard each day to ensure that all animals at Wildlife Prairie Park are safe, fed, happy, and healthy in their habitats. 

Dr. Dave Knaak

Wildlife Committee Chair

David is a retired veterinarian at Limestone Companion Animal Hospital. He serves on the board at Wildlife Prairie Park to improve the welfare of all Wildlife Prairie Park animals! David’s favorite memory at the park is the roundup of the bison and elk herds. His favorite animal is the Alligator snapping turtle. David serves on the board at the Tri-County Animal Emergency Clinic and Mason County Pheasants Forever. David is married to Mary.

Dr. Nicole Johnson

Park Veterinarian

Dr. Nikki is a 2003 graduate of the University of Illinois. She is a Pekin native and returned to the central Illinois area to join Pekin Animal Hospital in August of 2008.

She is a very active member and past president of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians. She is also a member of the Association for Avian Veterinarians and the Association for Exotic Mammal Veterinarians. She is currently the President Elect for the Mississippi Valley Veterinary Medical Association. She is also the Region IV board member for the ISVMA.

In addition to treating dogs and cats, Dr. Nikki has a strong background in exotic and zoo animal medicine and surgery. She shares her life with her significant other, Aaron, her teenage son, their Akitas Holly, and Spartan, their cats Autumn, Bruno, Sophie and Sid and a house full of reptiles including their continuously growing African Spurred Tortoise, Blue, who enjoys spending her winters, and entertaining the staff at PAH.

Dr. Kourtney Grimm

Park Veterinarian

Dr. Kourtney Grimm was born and raised in central Illinois and returned home after graduating with a DVM from University of Illinois in 2012. Like many veterinarians, she has always loved animals, but developed an interest in exotic and wildlife medicine after studying sea turtles in Costa Rica for a year before starting veterinary school. Despite being land locked in Illinois, sea turtles remain her favorite animal. She spent 4 years working with her vet school’s wildlife clinic and was able to do several wildlife internships. She even participated in Wildlife Prairie Park’s Round Up twice as a student. She actively pursues additional continuing education in exotic animal medicine to provide high quality care to many different species of animals. She has a specific interest in community outreach and enjoys doing talks to adults and children about exotic and wildlife animal care and medicine. She is proud to provide care to the animals of Wildlife Prairie Park as they hold a special place in the hearts of many in Central Illinois and beyond.

Adrienne Bauer

Wildlife Programming Director

Adrienne Bauer first came to Wildlife Prairie Park as a summer intern in 2006. She returned to the park as an animal keeper in 2010 and quickly adapted into the role as the Wildlife Director. Adrienne came to the park with a drive to enhance the safety protocols, enrich the lives of all animals in the collection and create a strong team community.

Prior to working at the park Adrienne assisted with wildlife research on raccoon populations in Southern Illinois and swamp rabbit populations in Southern Indiana. She also student taught in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Where she gained experience as an environmental educator. She is an expert zoologist with a rich knowledge in the care of large animals and avian life with a strong record of accomplishment of team management.

Anna Lynn

Animal Curator

Anna Lynn went to Southern Illinois University and has a Bachelors Degree in Zoology. She started as a Naturalist Intern in the Education Department at WPP, then became an Animal Keeper shortly after. Anna is now Animal Curator and has been at the park for about 8 years. She loves photography and often takes pictures of the Park’s animal residents.

Calli Dicks

Lead Animal Keeper

Calli Dicks is a Peoria native who grew up working and caring for animals at local vet clinics. She started working at Wildlife Prairie Park from 2012 as a Naturalist, and worked her way up to Programming Specialist before moving from the area in 2018. Returning to Peoria in 2020, meant returning to Wildlife Prairie Park. Calli graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS in Biological Sciences as well as studied abroad at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia where she helped research mahogany sugar gliders. She enjoys sharing her passion for animal behavior and conservation, especially for native species, in the hopes to bring awareness of the living world around you. Some of Calli’s hobbies are soccer, scuba diving, and going exploring with her husband and two Siberian Huskies.

Grace Thomas

Animal Keeper

My name is Grace Thomas and I spent part of my childhood in Ridgeway, MO and part in Williams, MN in the Lake of the Woods area. I graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a Fisheries and Wildlife major and a Captive Wildlife Animal Management minor. I have worked on prairies at Dunn Ranch Prairie and Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, as well as doing a student research project on prairie predators at Tucker Prairie. I have worked at a dog boarding and daycare facility, as well as at a veterinary clinic as an animal caretaker. I’ve also interned at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO. This will be my first full-time paid position in the zoo field and am very excited to meet everyone!

Anne Garcia

Animal Keeper

Anne Garcia was born and raised in Bloomington, IL and grew up with a love and passion for wildlife. She spent her childhood and her time in high school volunteering as a Junior Zookeeper at Miller Park Zoo located in Bloomington. From there she attended college at Eastern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Biological Sciences. She spent time volunteering at local nature centers in Charleston, IL and was able to intern as a ranger at Starved Rock State Park. After graduating, she moved back to her hometown to intern as a zookeeper at Miller Park Zoo and eventually worked as a permanent part-time zookeeper for two years. She has had a busy past couple of years, from getting married to her husband in June 2019, to starting her new job as an animal keeper at Wildlife Prairie Park in August 2020, and slowly but surely settling into their new home that they purchased in September 2020. Some of Anne’s hobbies are painting, birding, and hiking!

Corinne Cramer

Animal Keeper

Corinne Cramer has been an animal keeper at Wildlife Prairie Park since June 2020. She is originally from Manhattan, Illinois. She attended college at Illinois State University in Bloomington Illinois and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. While in college she also volunteered at Miller Park Zoo and completed a zookeeping internship, which is how she got started in the animal care field. After graduating she worked at an animal rescue and an animal hospital. While working these jobs she completed two other zookeeping internships at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois and Pueblo Zoo in Colorado. Corinne has worked as a zookeeper at Kansas City Zoo in Missouri and Miller Park Zoo in Illinois. Corinne enjoys spending time with friends and family in her free time.