Dr David Jones is a veterinarian and zoologist by training and is Director Emeritus of the North Carolina Zoo, having run it for 22 years. He was previously CEO of the Zoological Society of London and has spent more than 50 years in the wildlife and zoo management field, working in more than 50 countries.
He is the past board chair of Environmental Defence Fund North Carolina, past chair of the equine welfare charity Brooke UK, and founder chairman of Brooke USA. David has been on the councils of both World Wildlife Fund U.S. and U.K. and is a former chairman of Fauna and Flora International.
Dave Morgan is a founder member of the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) and was their first professional executive director. He was the first recipient of the Animal Keeper’s Association of Africa (AKAA) Conservation Award and a lifetime regent of the Association.
Dave was on WAZA council for five years, several WAZA committees, including as chairman of the Committee for Population Management. He served on the Board of Species360 and is a committee member of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
Dave has worked on zoo projects in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, China, Pakistan, India, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Gabon and Azerbaijan. His favourite animal: his Great Dane Windstone, his friend who has always been there for him.
Georgina Groves has more than 18 years’ experience working on animal welfare campaigns for UK and international organisations. As an experienced, strategic project director and campaigner in national and international animal welfare practice, she develops and runs international workshops in animal welfare and ethical practice for zoos, sanctuaries, NGOs and governments and was previously Wild Welfare’s executive director.
Georgina is a member of the Zoological Society of London’s animal welfare committee, a Species Survival Network (SSN) Animals in Captivity Working Group member and an International Veterinary Students’ Association Animal Welfare Committee Patron. Her favourite animal is the blue wildebeest because she thinks they are beautiful.
Simon Marsh started his career as an animal keeper, went on to specialise in carnivores and was most recently animal collection manager for a UK wildlife park. He has more than 20 years’ experience in zoos, safari parks, sanctuaries and rehabilitation projects, both UK and overseas. His passion for animal welfare goes hand in hand with a commitment to conserving species and habitats in the wild. Simon is a IUCN member, chairs the Canid and Hyaenid Taxon Advisory Group for the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and is a UK zoo inspector. One of the first species Simon worked with is his favourite; the lion. Sitting in a vehicle surrounded by a large pride was amazing and he learnt a huge amount about their behaviour and personalities.
Sophie’s animal welfare experience comes from nearly two decades working as a registered veterinary nurse. Retraining as a journalist five years ago, Sophie now applies a variety of communications skills to the fields of animal care and welfare.
Before joining Wild Welfare, Sophie worked as a freelance writer and in a communications role for a campaigning animal welfare charity. Her favourite animal is the cat, because of its independent nature.
Victoria brings her skills as a fundraiser and her passion for wildlife and community development to Wild Welfare. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a fundraiser for international development and wildlife conservation organisations. Prior to joining us, Victoria worked in Kenya and Namibia, raising funds for animal welfare and conservation projects. Victoria’s favourite animal is the elephant, for its intelligent and noble nature.
Sarah Blake has spent her decade-long career in animal management, having worked in several zoos and animal sanctuaries. She has also worked in the ethical ecotourism sector and is passionate about responsible tourism. With an enthusiasm for enrichment, Sarah initially became involved with Wild Welfare by creating enrichment portfolios and volunteering as an animal welfare advisor on overseas projects. Sarah sits on the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers (ABWAK) council and writes for their publication and the website Conservation Careers, encouraging young conservationists of the future. Sarah’s favourite animal is the wolf because she says they just feel like home.
Keiko Yamazaki has extensive experience within animal welfare in Japan. Keiko received her B.A. from the Division of Humanities, College of Liberal Arts of International Christian University, she is founder of the Animal Literacy Research Institute, and a committee member of the Subcommittee of Animal Welfare, Central Environment Council, Ministry of the Environment.
Keiko is also a special lecturer for Japan’s International Pet World College, and special advisor for The Japan Animal Welfare Society, so brings significant expertise of working on pertinent animal welfare issues within the country’s pet, farming and wildlife sectors.
Matt Hunt has been working with wild animals for 30 years in zoos and wildlife parks, focusing on combatting the illegal wildlife trade for the last 20 years.
UK-born Matt lives in Southeast Asia, where as chief executive of wildlife-protection charity Free the Bears, he oversees multiple projects and partnerships across Asia, work that includes the rescue, care, and rehabilitation of hundreds of bears from the illegal wildlife trade and bear bile farms.
In 2018, Matt received San Diego Zoo Global’s Conservation in Action medal, he is a founding board member of both Wildlife Asia and Wild Animal Rescue Network Asia (WARN) and active member of the IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group.
A staunch advocate for ‘good’ zoos and critic of ‘bad’ zoos, Matt believes that zoos globally have an increasingly important role to play in supporting long-term conservation strategies for wildlife in Southeast Asia.
Patricia Simmons became director and CEO of the North Carolina Zoo in 2015. Pat is an internationally elected member of the Council for the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), she serves as Chair of the WAZA Membership and Ethics Committee and Commissioner on the Accreditation Commission of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Pat’s other honours include becoming a Founding Fellow of the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program in 2013 (an international group of 100 CEOs selected to tackle global challenges for non-profits), Women’s History Project Woman of the Year for Imagination (1993); a Humanitarian Award for her efforts in the minority community (2003) and the first non-profit executive recipient of the Chairman’s award from the Akron Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Dr Mark Penning is the Vice President: Animals, Science and Environment for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, overseeing animal care and environmental initiatives at the company’s worldwide parks. His role includes oversight of the use of animals in film and television, from an animal welfare and story-telling perspective.
Mark is a qualified veterinarian with a special interest in wildlife, he has worked in private practice and has operated a wildlife immobilization and relocation business. He previously served as president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), and as CEO of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), a non-profit organisation dedicated to marine research and conservation.
Kris Vehrs spent more than 40 years playing a key role in the growth and modernisation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), retiring as executive director in 2020. Kris’ work helped shape the complex regulations impacting zoos and aquariums in the USA and involved representing AZA before CITES, U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and government bodies.
Kris is current CEO of OAI Inc., a firm specialising in fisheries, oceans and marine wildlife issues. She holds both bachelor and law degrees, is a Species360 and WAZA board member and has advised the Latin American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Mexican Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the South Asia Zoo Association for Regional Cooperation, among others.
Kris received the Zoological Society of London’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Zoo Community; AZA’s highest recognition, the Marlin R. Perkins Award for Professional Excellence; and WAZA’s Heini Hediger Award – its highest professional recognition.
Karen Fifield has worked in zoos since 1991, starting as the Education Manager at Taronga Conservation Society Australia, as director for Discovery and Learning at Zoos Victoria and as Chief Executive of Wellington Zoo Trust since 2006. Karen is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for business and animal welfare, an Oceania member of WAZA Council and Chair of the WAZA Ethics and Animal Welfare Committee, as well as a past president of the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia.
Karen’s awards include Wellingtonian of the Year – Environment Category (2010); HER Business Network Wellington Award winner and HER Business Network National Award winner; and twice Westpac/Fairfax Media NZ Women of Influence Awards finalist.
Tamsin Cracknell worked with horses for 10 years and represented Great Britain while competing at advanced level dressage and eventing, as well as teaching both disciplines and in producing young horses. A career change saw Tamsin move into insurance where she currently works in underwriting within the Lloyd’s market for a substantial syndicate that underwrites global property portfolios.
Dr Heather Bacon is Veterinary Welfare Education and Outreach Manager at the University of Edinburgh’s Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, based at the UK Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Heather has previously worked for NGO Animals Asia, and now works with organisations in India and China, providing animal welfare training to veterinarians, vet students and animal care staff.
Heather is actively involved in both post-graduate and undergraduate teaching at the Royal (Dick) and is carrying out PhD research focussed on understanding the current knowledge and attitudes to animal behaviour and welfare among zoo staff across Europe and China.
Wild Welfare is also lucky enough to have a team of advisors and volunteers, that offer their animal care and welfare expertise and time, to help support our initiatives and push forward our global projects.