Dr. Richard Jakob-Hoff

Richard was born in Switzerland, grew up in England and started working as a keeper at just the age of 16. Richard’s passion for science and research lead him to become a qualified vet in 1981, and seven years later he emigrated to New Zealand to work at Auckland Zoo. The Zoo is lucky to have a man as passionate and experienced as Richard, who, for six years was our Senior Curator, before becoming Senior Vet for 17-years, and for the past five years Manager of Conservation Science and Research. The things he loves most about his role is the professional and personal challenges of applying science in the zoo, and reaping the rewards of his team’s research which benefits the welfare of Auckland Zoo’s animals.

When asked for words of wisdom, Richard said “I can’t better Mahatma Ghandi’s advice ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’.”

Dr. James Chatterton

All the way from Sheffield in Northern England, James brings a lot of talent and experience to his role as Manager of Veterinary Services at Auckland Zoo. After graduating in veterinary medicine at Edinburgh University, he worked with domestic species for eight years, followed by zoo and wildlife species for nine years, before joining Auckland Zoo five years ago. He loves providing veterinary care for such a large range of animals, and finds it extremely rewarding being directly involved in the conservation of endangered species. His most memorable zoo moment involved treating a male kākāpō with severe wing injuries in the Auckland Zoo Vet Hospital, releasing it back into the wild, and then coming across two of his offspring when undertaking conservation fieldwork in the wild.

“In New Zealand, we are lucky to live in a society that already values wild animals and their natural environment, however the environment is under increasing pressure. We can all easily make small changes to our own lives, and the combined effect of these millions of small changes will be a huge positive step forward for our environment.”

Dr. An Pas

Originally from Belgium, “the land of chocolate and smurfs” as An describes it, she began her career working with domestic animals, but a desire to see the world and work with wildlife led to 18-years working on projects in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. An has now been with Auckland Zoo for five years and loves that there is so much more to learn and discover about the variety of species she now works with. She is unable to pick just one special moment in her career, but being able to use her skills to do things like: assist rescuing a chimp that spent years in isolation in Lebanon; releasing rescued monkeys back into a forest in Nigeria after years of rehabilitation; or contributing to research that may help save future species from extinction are all incredibly special to her.

“I wish we would all see the world as one, not as all separate entities that compete for the same space. If we believe that we are all connected, we show respect for all the surrounds us, ourselves, and each other, then we will find solutions for the many challenges the world faces.”

Dr. Melanie Leech

Melanie began her veterinary career in the Waikato with both farm animals and pets, as well as plenty of local wildlife. She has a Master of Veterinary Studies in Conservation Medicine, and loves the variety her role at Auckland Zoo provides – the diversity of animals she treats, the challenges, and the opportunity to work in the field. Spending time on Whenua Hou to do veterinary care and hand rearing of kākāpo chicks was a standout moment, and having the ability to make a real difference to a species.

“The world’s population is always growing and the planet has finite resources. Be aware of your daily impact on the environment. Teach this to children, and show them the wonderful wildlife of our planet.”

Dr. Lydia Uddstrom

Originally from Wellington, Resident Vet Lydia has gained experience both at Wellington Zoo, on dairy cattle farms, and is currently a PhD. candidate undertaking a study on stranded sea turtles. Lydia loves that no two days are the same at Auckland Zoo – some days involve working with tiny, critically endangered cobble skinks and others involve working with the gorgeous endangered elephant girls. She has been lucky enough to have, what she calls, the ‘best new year’s ever’ at Auckland Zoo, as she stayed up all night with keepers after Giraffe Kiraka gave birth to twins.

“It IS possible for individuals to make a difference – in the choices we make with plastic usage, conservation in our own backyard, through to advocacy to help species overseas. The world needs all of us to be mindful of the impact we are having on the environment around us!”

Mikaylie Wilson

Originally from Australia, Mikaylie Wilson began her zoo veterinary nursing career 19 years ago at Taronga Zoo. With a wealth of experience under her belt, Mikaylie worked at multiple zoos, an aquarium and marine mammal rescue centres with seal pups and seal rehabilitation, before becoming our Clinical Coordinator six years ago. Mikaylie loves the variety in her role, and being directly involved in the conservation of endangered species – especially her involvement in the Kakapo breeding season. Being on an amazing island, listening to adult males booming in the middle of the night, whilst walking across the island to perform a health check on a newly hatched kākāpō chick is a moment she describes as incredible, surreal and a career highlight.

“While we are fit and able, every small decision makes a difference to our future generations and wildlife. Say NO to as much plastic as you can! Every small step helps the environment, remember your children are watching and absorbing everything you do, so set the best example.”

Celine Campana

Celine Campana qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2000 and gained experience in small animal practice before discovering her true love – conservation work. After becoming involved with a Sea Turtle charity in Greece, Celine spent almost ten years working winters in the UK as a veterinary nurse, followed by summers working with endangered sea turtles on the beaches of Greece and Costa Rica. Conservation work became so important to Celine that she wanted to work in a major zoo, so spent six years in Paignton Zoo, and returned to New Zealand to begin at Auckland Zoo in 2017. Celine finds it rewarding to use her skills to contribute to conservation in New Zealand, and her memorable work moments include hand-raising Ohope, a starving little penguin chick that was brought into the Vet Hospital for treatment. Unable to be released, watching Ohope join the Zoo’s penguin colony was Celine’s favourite Zoo moment so far!

“You don’t have to be a veterinarian to make a positive impact, we can make the world a better place by changing our habits. Refuse plastic bags and straws, buy products with less packaging, don’t support unsustainable palm oil, and tell family and friends about the challenges faced by our natural world.”

Breeze Buchanan

Breeze was lucky enough to grow up on the beautiful Thames Coast where both her parents worked in conservation, which undoubtedly lead to a career in Veterinary nursing. Breeze has been with the Auckland Zoo team for two years, previously gaining experience in general practices and the Animal Emergency Centre. Breeze loves being part of such a passionate and dedicated team that works together to make a difference in their patients’ lives. She feels privileged to have worked with endangered wildlife such as kiwi and takahe, and also finds nursing stranded sea turtles very rewarding. A special moment for Breeze was when a stranded little penguin the vet department hand-raised was released into its new enclosure, describing it as how she would imagine it would feel sending your children to school for the first time.

“Human activities are causing huge amounts of destruction to the environment, threatening not only our special animals but our own future as well. If everyone works together to do their bit for the environment it would go a long way towards saving our planet.”

Amy Ross

Amy has joined Auckland Zoo as a Veterinary Nurse after gaining vast experience at SPCA Auckland and Unitec. When Amy is not busy looking after Auckland Zoo’s diverse range of animals, she spends her valuable time working on the New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association Executive Committee and on the Executive Board of the New Zealand Companion Animal Council. Amy loves ensuring that animals in her care are provided with the best environment and enrichment for their needs, and her most memorable moment at Auckland Zoo includes providing intensive care for turtles that have washed up stranded.

“Try to create as little rubbish as possible, and make sure you dispose of it properly – reuse and recycle where possible, and make sure anything that you place in a bin won’t fall out or be blown away.”

Kylie Martin

With eleven years’ experience as a Veterinary Nurse and Zoo Keeper at Hamilton Zoo, we are lucky to welcome Kylie into our Auckland Zoo whānau. While on a working holiday in Greece, volunteering in a sea turtle rescue centre, it was then Kylie realised her passion lies in wild and exotic species.

Kylie feels very privileged to have had some remarkable experiences in her career, including milking a white rhino by hand so she could assist feed its calf that was temporarily blind due to a difficult birth. She explains how rewarding it was to see the calf learn to suckle on mum for the first time and not need their help anymore.

“Be the change you want to see in the world, whether it be one piece of litter picked up from the beach or reducing your plastic addiction; every small action makes a difference.”

Bridget Angell

Bridget joined the team as a Veterinary Records Assistant in 2018, with vast experience in university labs, a pathology museum, libraries and in health insurance. Bridget loves that her new role contributes to saving endangered species, and the amazing work stories she gets to hear. As a newbie, Bridget’s most memorable zoo moment will undoubtedly be on its way, but as a teenager she attended school across the road from Auckland Zoo – and will never forget her exciting experience as a 16 year old getting to wash Kashin the elephant with a broom.

“Reduce the amount of single-use packaging you use, especially plastics that never break down. Some tea bags even contain plastic, consider switching to tea leaf instead.”