Kathy West

BS Zoology / Animal Behavior, 1978, University of California, Davis
MS Primate Ecology and Behavior, 1981, University of California, Davis13256331_10104426455754013_1714598228080048749_n

Travel for work and pleasure has provided me with opportunities to conduct science and create photographic images in Alaska, British Colombia, Pacific Northwest, Tanzania, Madagascar, Panama, Ecuadorian Amazon and cloud forests, Suriname, Galapagos Islands, Cambodia, Sumatra, Europe, and many states around the US.

Patient observation and waiting for the right moment to capture a striking image of a behavior has allowed me to shoot unique images of hundreds of species. With each experience I thoroughly enjoy observing and learning about the visual details and behavior of new species, discovering their “personality” and immersing myself in the ecosystem.

I am a member of the American Society of Primatologists, International Primatological Society, and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

For details, please see my CV here.

Unique Set of Experience and Skills

With my education and long career as an illustrator, photographer and communications specialist for University of California, Davis, and as a freelance photographer and illustrator, I have created images of a broad range of subjects from mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians to insects, plants and fungi.

chimpanzee portrait I

• Extensive experience photographing a broad range of animal and plant species in North, South and Central America, SE Asia, Tanzania, and Madagascar, both in the field and in the laboratory

• MS degree (UC Davis) and field research (Sumatra) on siamang ape (Hylobates syndactylus) ecology, behavior and communication

• Over 39 years providing accurate and engaging scientific illustrations for a broad range of research and conservation projects

• Provided photography field services to UC Davis’ One Health project, Phase II, in rural Cambodia

• Key contributor to successful government and private funding grant applications

• Developed and led novel and successful education and public outreach communication strategies for UC Davis research programs and a national outreach consortium for 13 years

Developed new conservation program, Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation (PICC)

Led an environmental outreach children’s workshop in collaboration with Suriname Forest Fragment Project, using the PICC program (see here for description and photos).


Growing up in northern California, my family explored the Pacific coast from Canada to Mexico by sail and experienced the state by camping and backpacking. Prolonged eye contact with a gray whale in the dawn mist and helping to disentangle an albatross from fishing line while he sat in our cockpit were just two of the special moments in our travels that engaged me with the natural world and led me to want to learn more. I attended University of California, Davis where I earned a BS in Zoology/Animal Behavior and an MS in Primate Ecology and Behavior, focusing my graduate research on siamang apes in the forests of Northern Sumatra.