As a research assistant I organize all the practical matters to conduct applied animal welfare research. I discuss the different research topics with the keepers, coordinators, curators and researchers, I provide background information about the animals, I order research materials, I take care of the student administration, and so on. I am also involved in Bonobo research in Zoo Planckendael in affiliation with the University of Antwerp. I work closely together with the bonobo keepers to train and shift the animals for research experiments and I help the researchers by developing the setup in the bonobo enclosure. Next to the practical organization in Zoo Antwerp and Zoo Planckendael, I work closely together with the EEP-coordinator (EAZA Ex-situ programmes) Jeroen Stevens, to assist him with the bonobo research in other Zoos in Europe and the US.
Since I started working in Zoos I am connected to the Harpij Foundation (Stichting de Harpij), an organization by- and for employees in Dutch and Flamish Zoos, with over 1300 members. Our goal is to increase the quality of animal care in Zoos all over the world by sharing knowledge. We organize workshops, conferences and sports days and we have a quarterly magazine. I am a member in the board and an editor for this organization.
My interest in Zoos and Wildlife is not limited to working hours; in my spare time I love to visit Zoos and Nature reserves all over the world.
- Animal Welfare
- Animal Behavior
- Wildlife and Conservation
I have no research background, but have always been interested in Zoos and Wildlife. I studied Animal Care and Management at Groenhorst College Barneveld in the Netherlands. I combined the study with working as a keeper at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen during weekends and school holidays. After graduation I started working at Dierenpark Wissel, and a few years later in Zoo Parc Overloon, where I became a leadkeeper. After ten years working in these zoos I started working as a birdkeeper at Zoo Antwerp, thenI became a keeper at the small primate department and finally a Coordinator Animal Care in Zoo Antwerp. In February 2018 I got the chance to become a research assistant at the Zoo Antwerp Center for Research and Conservation, where I can use my practical skills to connect research to the daily animal management.