Lee was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and showed an interestin wildilfe as a child.
She studied philosophy at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia before enrolling in 1971 on a graduate programme at Duke University in North Carolina, to study animal behaviour. She conducted research for her PhD on the calls of mammals and birds in Madagascar.
During that time, she met Gerald, when he gave a lecture at Duke University. She moved to Jersey and became in voled with teh When Lee moved to Jersey she became involved with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, of which she is now Honorary Director.