Dr Rebecca Biddle promoted to Director of Conservation
Dr Rebecca Biddle, formerly Head of Life Sciences has been promoted to Director of Conservation for Twycross Zoo. The brand-new role demonstrates the zoo’s commitment to educating and inspiring people to care about and save the other species with which we share our planet.
Animals at Twycross Zoo are active in a wide range of conservation activities, from participation in international breeding programmes, high quality research initiatives to better understand species and educating visitors to better understand the global extinction crisis.
Dr Rebecca Biddle said: “Zoos are a necessary and vital part of efforts to conserve endangered animals. Their purpose is to safeguard for the future. I am delighted to take up this new role, overseeing Twycross Zoo’s animal collection, veterinary services, research programmes, conservation education and in-situ partnerships.”
An inspiring zoologist, Dr Rebecca Biddle also helps manage the population of Eastern black rhino across European zoos and was one of a number of experts called upon to enable the reintroduction of five zoo-born Eastern black rhinos back to Rwanda in 2019.
The story of the black rhino species is sad but not unique, with the Western black rhino declared extinct in 2011 by the IUCN Red List. Initially the black rhino was the most common of all rhinos, however, due to illegal hunting and the demand for rhino horn increasing, the species suffered a 98% reduction in the 20th century.
Twycross Zoo is home to two Eastern black rhinoceros, both part of an important European breeding programme which consists of over 20 zoos and wildlife parks from around the continent working together to help preserve the population and maintain genetic diversity of this incredible species.
Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE said: “This is a strategic appointment to support the growth of the organisation in becoming internationally recognised for making a significant contribution to the global conservation of animals. Rebecca will be an integral part of our exciting next stage working to strengthen our structure to support the growth of the organisation, and to deliver the £20m Levelling Up Fund project: the National Science & Conservation Centre and state of the art orangutan habitat for opening in 2024.”
Twycross Zoo East Midland Zoological Society’s bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund for a National Science and Conservation Centre, based in the heart of the UK, was approved last year.
The National Science and Conservation Centre will be a purpose-built centre located adjacent to Twycross Zoo and will offer researchers from around the world the opportunity to study the four great apes as well as a range of endangered species, in naturalistic complex environments.
It will also support conservationists and scientists from around the world with a facility for both research and teaching. The work at the centre will focus on conservation; animal welfare; biosciences; STEM activities and public engagement with science and will include a unique 200-seater venue for scientific conferences. The work that takes place will propel the zoo, Leicestershire and the UK right into the heart of the fight against the global extinction crisis.