13 May - 3 June 2020 


Wednesdays at 6pm AEST 


60 minutes 


Free online event - please register above!

Bookings will close 2 hours before each webinar session (4pm on the day of the webinar) 

Join Zoos Victoria’s leading industry experts as they explore the challenges and innovations unfolding in wildlife conservation.

Get to know the people behind some of Australia’s most exciting conservation programs as they share their experiences out in the field and on the front line.

Conservation Conversations will delve into an array of wide-ranging topics, and provide you with an opportunity to take part in impactful and insightful discussion. 

Series Schedule 

Date Topic
Wednesday 13 May Mountain Pygmy-possum: Protecting a species on the brink 
Wednesday 20 May Conservation dogs: Sniffing out threatened species
Wednesday 27 May International conservation and the value of partnerships (with special guest Rhino Fund Uganda)
Wednesday 3 June Good news stories: wildlife, nature and finding hope



Week 3: Wednesday 27 May

International conservation and the value of partnerships (with special guest Rhino Fund Uganda)

Over the last 25 years, Zoos Victoria has supported a number of international conservation organisations across the globe.

Strong relationships form the foundation of these partnerships, and the collective goal of delivering measurable and sustainable outcomes for people and wildlife.

In 2016, Zoos Victoria partnered with Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) when poaching of rhino horn was at its peak in Africa. Over the years, the partnership has evolved, resulting in the sharing of knowledge and experience between the two organisations.

For this webinar, we’re joined by a special guest - Angie Genade, who has lived and worked at the remote Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for over ten years. In her early days at the organisation she admits that she feared these mighty beasts, but she quickly fell in love with their gentle nature and came to be their devoted protector. Today, she is the Executive Director, managing over 150 staff, and has garnered the support of neighbouring farmers and communities which has been critical to the success of the program.

As the Manager of International Conservation at Zoos Victoria, Chris Banks has built long-lasting relationships with many zoos and conservation organisations abroad, including RFU. Join Chris and Angie as they discuss the importance of collaboration, education and their passion for conserving wildlife.


Manager of International Conservation at Zoos Victoria

Chris Banks has worked in zoos since 1969, based mostly at Melbourne Zoo. From 1969 to the late 1980s, reptile and amphibian husbandry and management was a major focus, as keeper and curator. He initiated Zoos Victoria’s international conservation engagement in 2000, commencing with a suite of project support in south-east Asia in 2000. Chris transferred to Zoos Victoria's Wildlife Conservation & Science Department in 2012 and now manages international conservation partnerships in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Uganda, Rwanda, French Polynesia and Vietnam; and two sister zoo partnerships in Papua New Guinea and Uganda. His portfolio also includes Zoos Victoria's annual international conservation grants program.

Chris is author of one book and 60 published papers, and member of conservation and environment organisations in Australia and globally.


Executive Director at Rhino Fund Uganda

Angie joined Rhino Fund Uganda as Executive Director in 2008. She moved into Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary with her husband Johan and two sons. At the time, Ziwa was home to just six rhinos.

With wide experience in administration and organisation, she set about creating professional structures for financial management and operations. Keeping the rhinos secure was vital and Angie garnered support of communities around Ziwa by establishing several programmes working closely with security services, cattle keepers and the local population to meet their needs.

When working with animals, things happen! Angie has had to learn about, and has become expert in, rhino behaviour in order to manage rhino captures for veterinary interventions following injuries, notching and microchipping projects as well as controlling wildfires, bushmeat poaching incidents and much more.

Since 2008, rhino numbers have increased to 30 and visitor numbers have increased to 20,000 visitors per year. The sanctuary has recently received several awards with UWA appointing Angie as an Honorary Wildlife Warden in 2018 for services to rhino conservation in Uganda.

Week 4: Wednesday 3 JUNE

Good news stories: wildlife, nature and finding hope

For the final instalment of Conservation Conversations, we’re joined by Dr Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria, and Dr Sally Sherwen, Director of Wildlife Conservation and Science. Learn about the psychology of optimism, and how we can find hope in the face of adversity.

This conversation will delve into the challenges of recent events, and how they have pushed the organisation to adapt and innovate. Hear about Zoos Victoria’s role in the recent bushfires, stories of survival and humanity, and the outpouring of support from across the world.

Jenny and Sally will provide insight into what the future holds for the organisation, including new, community-led recovery projects and what success looks like.


Director, Wildlife Conservation and Science at Zoos Victoria 

Dr Sally Sherwen is the Director of Wildlife Conservation and Science at Zoos Victoria (the Conservation Organisation charged with the operation of Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary in Australia). Sally leads a dynamic team of scientists and specialists that develop and deliver strategic programs in conservation, animal welfare, education and environmental sustainability.

Sally has a PhD in Animal Welfare Science and in previous roles has established an evidence-based research program in animal behaviour and welfare science, developed and implemented an institutional welfare assessment tool to advance welfare standards and designed and ran collaborative training courses with several NGOs for industry professionals and community groups.

Sally is also a member of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee for the Victorian Government, where she acts as one of the State’s eight expert scientists charged with advising the Government on Animal Welfare issues that arise within the State across all animal industries (wildlife, agriculture, pets and zoos).


CEO at Zoos Victoria

Jenny is the Chief Executive Officer of Zoos Victoria, charged with the operation of Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. 

Jenny was President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) from 2017 – 2019.

Jenny has qualifications in Civil Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Business Administration and Ethics.  She brings a passion for animals and the environment to facilitate the transformation of Zoos Victoria into a Zoo Based Conservation Organisation. Her operational and financial skills ensure that this is achieved in a financially sustainable manner. Jenny’s thesis, Zoo Ethics – the Challenges of Compassionate Conservation, was published by CSIRO.



Week 1: Wednesday 13 May

Mountain Pygmy-possum: Protecting a species on the brink

The critically endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum is Australia’s only hibernating marsupial and often weighs less than a golf ball. With fewer than 2,000 left in the wild and the growing threat of habitat loss, predation and climate change, they’re in urgent need of help.

When the population of the possums’ main food source, Bogong moths, plummeted from an estimated 4.4 billion to being nearly undetectable in 2017 and 2018, Zoos Victoria Reproductive Biologist, Dr Marissa Parrott and a team of experts from across the country united to protect the possums and moths, and bring the species back from the brink.

Join Dr Marissa Parrott and Zoos Victoria Conservation Campaigner, Darcie Carruthers, for a compelling conversation about their experiences working in wildlife and community conservation, over a cup of tea.


Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation and Science, Zoos Victoria

As the Reproductive Biologist for Zoos Victoria, Marissa works across Healesville Sanctuary, Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and a variety of field locations to improve threatened species reintroduction and captive breeding success, and lead reproductive, behavioural and conservation research projects. Marissa has worked with Mountain Pygmy-possum research and conservation for 14 years, in the wild, with supplementary feeding development, and in the captive breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary. 

Marissa has been involved in a variety of wildlife and conservation programs across Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas and was recently named as an Australian Science Hero by the Australian Office of the Chief Scientist. In 2019, she was part of the largest ever all female expedition to Antarctica with Homeward Bound, a global leadership initiative for Women in STEMM. She sits on a number of Threatened Species Recovery Teams and Global Specialists Groups, and has a strong focus on endangered native marsupial, rodent and frog species.


Conservation Campaigner, Zoos Victoria 

As a Conservation Campaigner at Zoos Victoria, Darcie uses evidence-based tools to deliver and measure behaviour change programmes among Zoos Victoria’s broad community, both at our three great properties and beyond zoo walls. She’s passionate about connecting people with wildlife and facilitating simple actions that empower anyone to make a positive contribution to the natural world. Darcie believes that wildlife conservation should be for all and that it can start at our own front door. During the spring and summer of 2019-2020, Darcie worked with a multi-disciplinary team to develop the new citizen science platform Moth Tracker and create the awareness raising campaign Lights Off for the Bogong Moths. She is interested in using Community Based Social Marketing principles and creative communication to reach audiences of varied backgrounds and gets a kick out of consumer advocacy. Her favourite animal of is the Common Wombat.


Week 2: Wednesday 20 May

Conservation dogs: Sniffing out threatened species

Dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us – which makes them experts at analysing smells and the ideal co-worker to assist with threatened species conservation.

Join three women making strides as they discuss the inception of the Fighting Extinction Detection Dog Program, what makes an ideal detection dog, the relationship between handler and dog, and how the program has changed the game for threatened species conservation.


Threatened Species Project Officer, Zoos Victoria

Working closely with a range of conservation partners, Chris has led the strategic planning and implementation for Zoos Victoria’s Detection Dogs program since 2016, and Plains-wanderer program since 2018.

Chris has extensive experience in experimental design and implementation, and has played a project management and field officer role within a number of conservation projects for Australian native species, and the use of detection dogs to locate threatened wildlife. Her strengths lie in communication, planning, and overcoming the many logistical challenges encountered in the effort to bring species back from the brink of extinction.


Wildlife Detection Dog Officer, Zoos Victoria

Dr La Toya Jamieson has been working with and researching wildlife detection dogs since 2015. During a trip to South Africa, La Toya first encountered wildlife detection dogs trained to detect cheetah, lions and wire snares, and has been passionate about this unique method for monitoring wildlife ever since. After completing her Bachelor in Applied Science, she completed her Honours research on examining the success and efficiency of Northern Quoll detection dogs.

La Toya continued her research and dog training, and completed her PhD on improving how we select, train and manage wildlife detection dog-handler teams. La Toya has since joined the Zoos Victoria team in 2019, working in their Wildlife Detection Dog Program which is based at Healesville Sanctuary.


Conservation Detection Dog Officer, Zoos Victoria

Naomi received a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Queensland in 2008, with double majors in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and Park Management. Naomi completed her Honours degree at the La Trobe University, Anthrozoology Research Group in 2017, where her research explored the effects of different training models on the dog-human relationship. Thanks to her 16 years’ experience working as a veterinary nurse, Naomi also has an extensive understanding and skills to promote the best possible health and welfare practices for the canine members of the team. For the past 7 years, Naomi has focused on working with Wildlife Detection Dogs and has worked on projects training dogs to detect threatened species. Most recently, Naomi has helped to develop Zoos Victoria’s Wildlife Detection Dog program and is looking forward to all the possibilities in applying the use of detection dogs to help Fight Extinction.


Donate today to help us continue our conservation work

While our zoos remain temporarily closed, our conservation work carries on and is more urgent than ever. The survival of some species still hangs in the balance, and for many, our commitment to fight wildlife extinction is their only hope.