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New Zoo Director passionate about conservation

New Zoo Director passionate about conservation and delighting and exciting Zoo visitors

Auckland Zoo's new Director Glen Holland says he is delighted to be taking on the role of running what he believes is one of, if not the, most progressive zoos in the Australasian region.

With the shared vision, expertise and commitment of staff, it's a reputation he intends to maintain, and improve on.

Excited at the prospect of being able to build on what has been achieved in recent years, Holland says his biggest challenge will be finding sufficient resources to sustain the growth he believes should be achieved.

South African-born Holland, Auckland Zoo's Life Sciences Manager for the past three years (and acting-Director since May), was chosen after an exhaustive national and international recruitment process. Prior to joining Auckland Zoo in 2000, Holland was Species Manager at Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre in the Wairarapa.

The 40-year-old has extensive experience in the management of captive animals, and in managing wildlife reserves, and a passion for wildlife and nature conservation that dates back to his childhood.

"I’ve always loved animals, but as a kid I was particularly passionate about birds, and by the age of 10 I was already very involved in aviculture, bird watching, and doing voluntary work at World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary in Cape Town.

"Throughout my school years, I also spent a lot of time assisting with the rescue of oil contaminated sea birds," says Holland, who is adamant zoos must "stay relevant, be exciting and inspiring places for people of all ages to experience, and essentially play a strong conservation role".

"I believe that we have to ensure that we can justify why the animals are held captive. When I see the results of the breeding programmes, conservation projects, education, research, recycling and energy-saving initiatives, and keeper encounters that are going on at Auckland Zoo right now, that gives me a great sense of purpose," says Holland.

"In co-operation with the Department of Conservation, we're involved in an increasing number of native species breeding and release programmes. Through our Conservation Fund, we're also making a real difference to conservation projects in places such as Sumatra and Vietnam."

"Our animal husbandry standards are recognised regionally, and last year we initiated and hosted the first trans-Tasman training and conditioning workshop for zoo keepers.

In addition, veterinary staff at the Zoo’s Wildlife Health & Research Centre are involved in groundbreaking work on the disease screening of native species, and have built up an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise,” says Holland.

"Our Zoo keepers are skilled and innovative and are continuing to develop exciting public encounters. Our daily Native Fauna Encounter earlier in the year won the inaugural ARAZPA (Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks & Aquaria) Education Award, in recognition of outstanding educational programme design. And we have several new encounters starting this spring."

Holland notes the Zoo's Education Service has brought in record numbers of school students over the past year, and continues to develop innovative opportunities to educate young people about conservation, such as the upcoming 'Frogs Forever Week' in early October.

"Along with these initiatives is a very hard working business team, ensuring sufficient revenue to sustain the business through marketing, the Zoo shop, functions, an exciting events calendar, and most recently, our Kiwi ZooSnooZ programme.

"Our vision is to keep moving forward in all these areas to ensure our standards are increasingly recognised internationally," says Holland.

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