As a general curator I am in charge of the animal care section of Antwerp ZOO, Planckendael ZOO and Serpentarium ZOO. The animal care section consists of a dedicated group of curators, registrars and keeper staff. With this team of approximately 120 professionals we develop and follow a strategic collection plan for our zoos and ensure that the animals are housed and cared for according to national and international standards.
In an international context I specialize in the ex situ management of gorillas and Asian elephants. I am the okapi international studbook keeper and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Okapi EEP coordinator (EAZA Ex-situ programmes), EAZA Antelope & Giraffid TAG (EAZA Taxon Advisory Group) chair and member of the advisory board of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group. The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of more than 8.000 experts from almost every country of the world, all working together towards achieving a reduction in the loss of diversity of life on earth.
I obtained a B. Hons at the Van Hall Instituut, University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden, specializing in Zoo and Wildlife Management. This training focuses on the practical applicability of research whereas at research universities the emphasis is on gathering knowledge through research. After obtaining my degree I worked for a couple of years at Apenheul Primate Park as a zookeeper and assisted the curators with breeding programme management. Since 2006, I work for the Antwerp ZOO Society. I started as curator of mammals in Antwerp ZOO. In 2009 the mammal collection of Planckendael ZOO was added to my responsibilities. Finally I became general curator in 2013.
In the context of my okapi work I contributed to the publication of the Okapi Conservation Strategy and Status Review:
Noëlle F. Kümpel, Alex Quinn, Elise Queslin, Sophie Grange, David Mallon and Jean-Joseph Mapilanga (2015). Okapi (Okapia johnstoni): Conservation Strategy and Status Review. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN and Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). pp. 58