Auckland Zoo

Head of Conservation Advocacy and Engagement

Dr Sarah Thomas is the Head of Conservation Advocacy and Engagement at Auckland Zoo. This role includes leading on the following areas:  Conservation Learning and Community, Visitor Experience and Engagement, Volunteer Programmes, Kaupapa Māori and Conservation Social Science. She has 20 years working with zoos and conservation NGOs nationally and internationally. She has a PhD in conservation social science with a focus on exploring the social dimensions of biodiversity conservation. She chaired the EAZA Education Committee 2012-2019, and was the IZE Board regional representative for Europe and the Middle East 2016-2019, and – after a move to New Zealand – the regional representative for Oceania 2021-2022.

Sarah also specialises in policy work focusing on raising the standards in zoos and aquariums globally. In 2016, she lead the creation of the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) Conservation Education Standards.  In 2018, she was commissioned by WAZA and IZE to author ‘Social Change for Conservation: The World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Education Strategy’  which launched in 2020. These frameworks are significantly changing the way conservation education is planned, delivered and evaluated in zoos and aquariums worldwide.


Oceania Regional Representative: October 2021-October 2022

Europe & Middle East Regional Representative: October 2016-October 2019

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