“People do not always think that the natural world touches them in cities but actually everything you do and use relies on the natural world”, Dr Bryan Carrol.
What is your job about?
Bristol Zoological Society is an incredibly complex organization. We run two sites, where we hold animals to show to people with the purpose of inspiring them and to teach them about biology and the natural world. We also want to give people a good day out. People relax when they are here and become more receptive to messages about wildlife conservation. A lot of the species that we hold on the site are critically endangered species and are very rare in the wild. Some others are extinct in the wild. We hold insurance populations of these threatened species. We have a wide range of species too, from mammals and birds to amphibians and invertebrates
What issues do you or did you address?
- Conservation in the wild
- Education of zoo visitors, students on our courses and local communities
- Insurance populations of endangered, critically endangered and extinct-in-the-wild species.
What moved you to take action?
For me personally it stems from this love of wildlife. I was fortunate enough to go and work at Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust – now called Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. It gave me a really strong grounding and understanding of what zoos can do for conservation. When I came to Bristol zoo I saw it as a huge opportunity to grow. We set up our team to bring in grants and funding and we developed our fieldwork and conservation work.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
Fortunately we have a lot of goodwill from our Trustees and within the City. The major obstacle for us is always having limited funding. People assume we are a rich organization because we have been here for a long time, but as a charity we don’t hold big reserves we very much rely on day to day income to keep going.
The biggest challenge is to make sure we are a viable business and keep doing the work we are doing.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
I love the work and I am very motivated. Getting out, seeing the world and doing things is so important.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
It’s been a lifelong interest. I remember grubbing around in streams looking for freshwater mussels and the crayfish which we are trying to save now. I’ve always been passionate about the living world.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
10 – I have a great job and work in a great organization. But I do know its not a perfect world, there are always challenges and concerns.