Matthias Papies


As curator of mammals I am responsible for the mammal collection of ZOO Antwerpen and ZOO Planckendael. I oversee the husbandry and in close collaboration with the head keepers and keepers I ensure that we keep our mammal species according to best practice. This involves developing new enclosures together with the other departments of the KMDA. To ensure a relevant and sustainable mammal collection I am collaborating with international colleagues on different fields. One aspect is the exchange of ideas and knowledge regarding mammal husbandry and optimising husbandry techniques. Furthermore, I exchange animals with other zoos in order to keep the populations at the desired level. For a lot of the species under my remit this means participating in breeding programmes and studbooks.

Activities in international context (e.g. within European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA))

  • Vice Chair EAZA Monotreme & Marsupial TAG 
  • Swamp Wallaby European Studbook Keeper
  • I am member of the Species Committee for the several EAZA Ex-situ programmes (EEPs), i.e. koala, Tasmanian devil, bare-nosed wombat, pygmy slow loris, grey slender loris, uilenkopmeerkat, bonobo, Asiatic lion, Amur tiger, red panda, spotted hyena, Indian rhino, Grevy’s zebra, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, Viasayan warty pig, babirusa and addax.

Scope of work

The reason for keeping animals in zoos is conservation and conservation education. To ensure that these goals can be met, genetically and demographically healthy animal population are needed. Being the European studbook keeper for swamp wallabies is one part of it where I manage the swamp wallaby population. As vice chair of the EAZA Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) for monotremes and marsupials I work together with like-minded colleagues to guarantee healthy populations for monotreme and marsupial species in EAZA zoos. The TAG oversees the studbooks and breeding programmes under her remit and we also develop regional collection plans (RCP). A RCP is a tool to assist zoos in deciding which species to keep as it recommends the species to keep in EAZA zoos and which not. During the process of developing a RCP, the species are evaluated and according to different criteria will be recommended or not. Another aspect are the species committees of EEPs where I am part of several. The species committee consists of certain representatives from zoos keeping this species. We support the EEP coordinator in his work, especially with strategic aspects of the EEP. For example the long-term management plans which are developed for more and more EEPs in which the goals and necessary actions to reach these goals are outlined for the coming years.

Brief Biography

After working as animal keeper in Hannover Zoo (Germany), I obtained my bachelors degree in animal management at the University of Applied Sciences Van Hall Larenstein at Leeuwarden (The Netherlands). During this study I did extensive internships at Apenheul Apeldoorn (The Netherlands) and Chester Zoo (United Kingdom). Since 2009 I work for ZOO Antwerp & ZOO Planckendael. First as assistant curator and since 2015 as curator of mammals.