Andy Hall

Blog: We need zoo & aquarium heroes

Posted: 7th September, 2022

On the launch of the new Zoo & Aquarium Hero Award, BIAZA’s Andy Hall explains what it’s all about and why it is so important.

In the face of climate change and ecological oblivion it can be hard to find the motivation to keep up the fight for nature. That is why it is so important to look for and celebrate those points of light that shine so brightly.

The last few years have not been short of challenges. Even in the darkest days of the pandemic we saw ordinary people across the UK & Ireland go to great lengths support their zoos and aquariums.

But heroism has not just been seen at the most challenging times of the pandemic. Across the sector there are countless heroes who have played a role conserving wildlife, caring for animals, sharing their passion for the natural world, or even just making us laugh when we need it.

I felt we needed to celebrate these heroes and from this, the Zoo and Aquarium Hero Award was born.

So what is the Zoo & Aquarium Hero Award? Unlike other BIAZA awards that celebrate the fantastic projects and individuals working across the membership, the Hero Award can be applied to a wider variety of individuals that are making a difference to the natural world. This award is at the discretion of BIAZA and could be awarded to any number of heroes. It a sort of Blue Peter Badge (a ZooPeter Badge?) for the natural world.

Andy Hall with Aaron, Tyler, and Cameron Whitnall, from Paradise Wildlife Park and presenters of CBBC's One Zoo Three. They each took home a Zoo and Aquarium Hero Award last year. 

Last year I was delighted to hand out awards to fundraisers, politicians and tv presenters. And this year, we have celebrated some of the outstanding people who volunteer their time at our member zoos and aquariums; from Jill “the ray whisperer” at the National Marine Aquarium to Ultan, Amelia and Isme, beach cleaners at Galway Atlantaquaria.

One award brought me particular pleasure. I got to present a Hero Award to Arfan Aziz at ZSL London Zoo. Not only has Arfan been volunteering for nearly 25 years where he has delighted countless visitors with his friendly knowledge he has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance to so many who now work in the sector including zoo keepers and myself. I can think of few so deserving as Arfan!

What is the future for the Zoo & Aquarium Hero Award? Well the sector has an enormous job leading society in the fight against climate and ecological catastrophe. I am sure that the Hero Award will continue to go to those at the center of that fight in the media, in our communities, and in our zoo and aquariums.

By Andrew Hall,

Communications and Public Affairs Manager, BIAZA

You can see the full list of Zoo and Aquarium Hero Award winners here.

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