MGC 1968 Leaver
Serendipity is the word that best describes the progress of my career. I have always been interested in animals and nature but never thought I would be able to make it my career. After MGC, I planned to take a degree in Biochemistry but soon discovered that this was not the course for me and so I changed to study Zoology. I then went on to study mouse lemurs for a PhD. When my supervisor moved his work to London Zoo, I joined him and so began my life in zoos. After I finished my PhD, I applied to become research officer in Rotterdam Zoo and I have been based in Rotterdam ever since.
As a new science officer, I needed a research project. In an enclosure near the entrance to the zoo I saw a pair of red pandas and immediately knew this was the species I wanted to study.
My work evolved over time from research officer to curator and then to head of conservation. These positions have taken me around the world to visit many interesting places and worthwhile conservation projects. However, the red panda always remained my prime interest.
Over the years I have run the red panda breeding programme, supported red panda conservation, worked with CITES (Convention International on the Trade in Endangered Species) to get the trade in red pandas stopped, with the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to get red pandas recognized as endangered, and undertaken red panda research.
Today, after retiring from the zoo, I still run the Red Panda GSMP (Global Species Management Plan) and am the chair of the board of Red Panda Network, a red panda conservation organisation. I still lecture on red panda husbandry and management and am involved in promoting red panda conservation throughout the countries where it lives.
What does success look like?
Success is when your job doesn't feel like work but seems more like a hobby.
What is your best piece of advice?
You can achieve all your ambitions if you believe in yourself and exploit all the opportunities you are offered.