Help Us Protect Victoria’s Unique Wildlife


15 May 2024

Doors Open


Event Time

6:30pm - 8:30pm


Leopard Lodge at Melbourne Zoo

Enter via Rail Gate Entry 


Book onsite

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We warmly welcome you to register for this free event launching Zoos Victoria's End of Financial Year Campaign to help us protect Victoria’s unique wildlife. 

Learn from our experts about how Zoos Victoria is committed to securing the future of the Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon.  

A species thought to be lost forever, is now known to be clinging to existence in just a single remnant in the most rapidly disappearing ecosystem in Australia. 

Discover how, with your support, we will leverage our expertise and galvanise actions already underway to defend this dragon and put it on a fast track to downgrade its Critically Endangered status by 2030. 

Can't make it in person? Click here to register for the online stream. 

Event Hosts

Sheri Horiszny 
Director, Melbourne Zoo , Zoos Victoria

After a lifechanging experience rescuing a seagull in trouble in 2001, Sheri did a major pivot, leaving behind her successful career in advertising and marketing to dedicate herself to making a positive difference in the world.  She went on to complete a conservation biology degree and embarked on an incredible journey of working with animals and people, holding leadership positions at the Santa Barbara Zoo, Oregon Zoo in Portland, Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, and founding the Giraffe Conservation Alliance.

Joining Zoos Victoria in 2022, Sheri’s personal mission shines through as she strives to inspire positive action for the planet by developing strong, collaborative teams with a culture of inclusivity, respect, gratitude, and fun. Combined with her marketing background and earlier studies in business psychology,  Sheri is perfectly placed to lead a modern zoo dedicated to inspiring and empowering people of all ages to make behavioural changes to ensure our planet, and the creatures that call it home, thrive into the future. 

Garry Peterson 
General Manager Threatened Species, Zoos Victoria

Garry is the General Manager Threatened Species in the Wildlife Conservation and Science Department at Zoos Victoria. Before joining Zoos Victoria in 2022, Garry had over two decades experience in conservation project and program management, stakeholder engagement, and leading and managing staff and teams. He has extensive networks and established relationships with government and non-government organisations across the conservation sector including Traditional Owners. He has led and supported threatened species recovery planning and project implementation, policy development and delivery, and funding acquisition and administration. He guided and supported staff responsible for leading critical and high profile threatened species recovery programs including Orange-bellied Parrot, Eastern Barred Bandicoot, South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Southern Right Whale, and a suite of flora species. 

Garry is also an experienced herpetologist focusing on grassland reptile ecology and conservation. He has chaired several recovery teams, authored recovery plans, and is currently leading the recovery efforts for the recently rediscovered Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon. Garry has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and was an inaugural member of the Victorian Threatened Fauna Translocation Evaluation Plan for over a decade. Garry is motivated by opportunities to work with and support First Nations people in caring for Country, and by supporting staff and organisations to achieve positive conservation outcomes. 

Guest Speakers

Nick Clemann
Senior Biologist Herpetology, Zoos Victoria  

Nick Clemann is one of Australia’s leading threatened species experts. Propelled by a childhood passion for observing and catching lizards, Nick went on to start his science career at the Victorian government’s Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) over 25 years ago. At the ARI Nick led programs on threatened species across SE Australia, advising government on threatened species research, management, policy and scientific permits. He has also worked overseas on international scientific expeditions ‘lassoing lizards’ in the deserts and mountains of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Argentina. Nick’s extensive publication record includes papers from these expeditions, as well as on the conservation of lizards, snakes and frogs. He is the senior author of the recently published book Frogs of Victoria: A Guide to Identification, Ecology and Conservation. Nick also reviews reptile and frog submissions for the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, chairs several National Recovery Teams for threatened species and holds an honorary position with Museums Victoria.

Currently serving as Senior Biologist Herpetology at Zoos Victoria, Nick plays a pivotal role in leading Fighting Extinction programs, focusing on the conservation of several species, including Masters’ Snake (Victoria’s first conservation program for a venomous snake), the Southern Giant Burrowing Frog and several lizards, including the Critically Endangered Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon. 

Dr Nick Rutter 
Wildlife Detection Dog Officer, Zoos Victoria  

Nick Rutter has always had two interests; conservation and psychology, which led him to explore human-animal relationships, or anthrozoology. Nick combined his passion for conservation with his interest in canine science to complete a PhD at La Trobe University where his research has contributed to our understanding of how we can effectively train and prepare wildlife detection dogs for working in different environments and in different search scales. Nick’s work also explores detection dog's tendencies to display olfactory generalisation to similar yet separate species that they have been trained to detect.

This work may help inform how we can train dogs to find rare species, especially those where it may be difficult to source odour samples required to train dogs. Nick, along with his wildlife detection dog Daisy, joined Zoos Victoria in August 2021. Their work helps Zoos Victoria’s threatened species biologists to continue to train and deploy detection dogs to help find evidence of some of Victoria's most threatened and endangered species including the Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon.