Europe and Middle East Region: Sarah Thomas
Head of Discovery and Learning
Zoological Society of London
After starting her zoo career at Blackpool Zoo in the North of England, Sarah joined the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in 2011 and her current role is the Head of Discovery and Learning. She leads the Discovery and Learning teams at ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to work on the following strategic areas: schools and other educational institutions, practical learning programmes, public engagement with conservation science, inclusion, community engagement, social dimensions of conservation, evaluation, visitor studies and social research.
Sarah is an active member within the BIAZA (British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums) and EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria). She was the chair of the BIAZA Education Committee 2007-2013 and was invited to be the BIAZA representative on the UK Governments “Learning Outside of the Classroom” (Natural Environment) initiative. Responsibilities included inputting into consultations on White Papers, changes to National Curriculum and cross sector collaborations. She has been the chair of the EAZA Education Committee since 2012 and was the lead author on the new EAZA Conservation Education Standards which were published in 2016. In addition, Sarah is a long serving member of the BIAZA Research Committee, EAZA Conservation Committee and EAZA Council. She has been trainer and facilitator on the numerous national and international training courses covering public engagement, interpretation and educational programming, informal learning environments, behaviour change, education strategy development, evaluation, social and emotional aspects of learning and social dimensions of conservation.
Sarah was the guest editor for the International Zoo Yearbook in 2015 for the “Future Perspectives in Conservation Education “volume .
Sarah holds a PhD in Education Research at Lancaster University, UK. Her PhD thesis was entitled: “Using a practice lens to explore the social dimensions of conservation” Her research interest is how people and their practices fit into the conservation landscape. She has worked extensively with ZSL’s conservation and science staff in providing support and expertise on the social dimensions components of a wide variety of conservation projects around the world.
She has a BSc (Hons) in Zoology from University of Glasgow, Scotland and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education ( PGCE) from the University of Central Lancashire, England.
January 2016 – Present Regional Representative (Europe/Middle East)