A Devon conservation charity has scooped top national awards – including an Outstanding Achievement accolade for its Executive Director.
The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and its family of charity zoos – Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall – won a clutch of awards at the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ 50th Anniversary awards ceremony.
The gala dinner and awards ceremony was held recently at Marwell Wildlife, Hampshire. The Trust shared a gold award for its conservation work with golden mantella frogs, while Paignton Zoo’s gardens team took gold for the project that led to the flowering of the enormous Titan arum plant last year. Paignton Zoo, Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts took a joint gold award for marketing;
The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Executive Director Simon Tonge was awarded the Outstanding Achievement award in recognition of his contribution to the zoo and aquarium community.
Dr Kirsten Pullen, Director of BIAZA, said, “Simon has been at the forefront of the zoo profession for a number of years, taking on roles such as the Chair of BIAZA and more recently the Chair of EAZA. During his time in those positions he has worked, sometimes in incredibly challenging situations, to meet the needs of the zoo and aquarium community and guide us toward our objectives. He is greatly respected by the global zoo community and this award is clear recognition of this.”
Professor David Field from the Zoological Society of London and former head of EAZA Dr Lesley Dickie gave glowing tributes to Simon, explaining the impact he had had on their careers. The audience then gave him a standing ovation.
Kirsten added: “From a personal perspective, Simon has not only achieved great things at the WWCT, but also established a professional environment that encourages the development of zoo and aquarium professionals.
“My 12 years at Paignton under Simon’s directorship were integral to my professional development and helped me take on the role as the Director of the national association. His work for our community has been truly outstanding, and we look forward to working with him for many years to come.”
Originally known as The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Britain and Ireland, BIAZA was formed in 1966 out of recognition of the need for standardised principles and practices in animal management. Today its 113 membership are a powerful force for conservation and education, with continuous scientific research and sharing of best practice to ensure the highest levels of animal welfare.