Sean McKeown was born in Southern California. He held degrees in zoology and anthropology from California State University. McKeown worked as a supervising herpetologist at the Honolulu Zoo during the 1970s and early 1980s. During this time, he developed a number of breeding programs for some lizard and tortoise species. For his commitment to captive breeding the Madagascar angulated tortoise (Geochelone yniphora), McKeown received the AAZPA conservation award. McKeown received zoo awards for being the first to breed Madagascar ploughshare tortoises. He also administered the first long-term breeding program for the Madagascar ground boas.
McKeown wrote several books, including: