RPN Board Members
Behavior Husbandry Manager - San Diego Zoo
Nicki is a founding board member of the Association of Professional Wildlife Educators (APWE). She is currently an Animal Care Manager of the San Diego Zoo and has worked for the Zoological Society of San Diego for 18 years. She has trained exotic animals for over 20 years and is a graduate of Moorpark’s Teaching Zoo as well as Mesa Colleges Veterinary Technician Program, and has an Associate in Science degree; she recently obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix. Nicki has worked in a variety of areas within the San Diego Zoo including Collection Husbandry Science, Behavior Management, Veterinary Services, volunteer at Conservation and Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES), an internship at the Wild Animal Parks Veterinary Service Department and of course 9 years as a zoo keeper in the Children’s Zoo and 3 years as Team Area Lead and 5 years as Animal Care Supervisor. She now sets up training programs for the Collection Husbandry Science Department at the San Diego Zoo as well as protocols for carnivores, primates, hoofstock, various birds, herbivores and reptiles. She also manages the personnel needs for over 100 employees of the San Diego Zoo’s mammal department. She was selected to help write the curriculum with other training specialist for the AAZK/AZA keeper training course at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. She trains educators and keepers to handle exotic animals and perform educational programs. She also performed internships at the Los Angeles Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo and Sea World. Her professional affiliations include AZA, AAZK, ABMA, APWE and RPN.
Wildlife Filmmaker and Photographer
Axel Gebauer is a freelance filmmaker and photographer with a passion for wildlife photography in general and the red panda in particular. During his career, he’s participated in numerous expeditions, including five to India for the purpose of studying red pandas. In addition, he's written five scientific journal papers on red pandas and given at least 10 presentations and lectures on them to scientific and zoological societies. His documentary film “The Forgotten Panda” is due to premiere on German television later this year. Beginning in 2015, Gebauer spent two years filming red pandas in Nepal, Bhutan and India.
“I cooperate with RPN because I like the serious work of this NGO, combining in situ conservation with zoo-related activities,” Gebauer said. “And I not only know some of my board member colleagues but also the really committed people in Nepal.”
As a biologist, Gebauer has broad research experience that includes studying zoo animal husbandry, Eurasian and Antarctic birds and mammals, and red pandas both in the wild and in zoos. He served as curator of the Görlitz Zoo in Görlitz in Sachsen, Germany, from 1980 to 1983. He then served as director of the Nature Conservation Animal Park-Görlitz from 1986 to 2010. Since 2011, Gebauer has worked as a freelance photographer and filmmaker. More than 1,000 of his photographs have appeared in books, journals and newspapers. He’s also had exhibitions of his photography in Germany, Poland and India. The exhibition “Der vergessene Panda/The Forgotten Panda” included 30 large format photographs.
Convener of the Red Panda GSMP (Global Species Management Plan)
Angela chairs the Red Panda Network (RPN) Board of Directors. She joined the board of RPN in 2014. Angela is a trained zoologist with a strong interest in animal behavior, in particular the impact of environmental factors on reproduction and maternal behavior. She got her PhD on behavior and reproduction in mouse lemurs from University College London. Angela joined Rotterdam Zoo in the late 1970s as a research biologist later becoming curator of mammals (hoofstock and primates) and finally, conservation coordinator. She retired from the zoo in 2015 and is now working to establish a new zoo-based conservation organization. Throughout her time in Rotterdam Zoo, Angela was involved with red pandas; she has conducted research into their behavior, established an international studbook to register all zoo red pandas, led the red panda European Endangered Species Program (EEP) for many years and is currently chairing the Red Panda GSMP.
She has also worked with the IUCN-SSC (International Union for Conservation of Nature - Species Survival Commission) and CITES (International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) on behalf of red pandas. She has also edited two books on red pandas: “Red Panda Biology” and "Red Panda - The Biology and Conservation of the First Panda." Angela has been a supporter of RPN since its inception and has encouraged many European zoos to support RPN’s work.
China Country Director for the National Geographic Society
Jim Harkness has worked on issues of biodiversity and sustainable development in China and the United States for over 30 years. He helped the International Crane Foundation establish its programs in China in the 1980s and 1990s, including a year in Tibet conducting the first population census of the endangered black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) in 1990-91. He coordinated the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Giant Panda Conservation Action Plan from 1993 to 1995, and from 1995 to 1999 was environment and development program officer for the Ford Foundation in Beijing. Harkness served as Country Representative for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in China, (1999-2005) where he led a major expansion of WWF's programs and impact. From 2006 to 2014, he served as President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, an international think tank and advocacy organization based in Minnesota. Since 2014, Harkness has worked as a consultant on China, environment, agriculture and philanthropy. (www.jimharkness.com) He has degrees in Chinese language (University of Wisconsin) and Development Sociology (Cornell).
Christer is a founding member of Foundation Nordens Ark and was deeply involved with the planning and construction of the Nordens Ark Zoo and breeding facilities. During his early career, he worked with the enforcement of the national rules for animal husbandry and welfare for farm animals in five Swedish counties. For over thirty years he has worked as a bird conservation project manager for the reintroduction/restocking of breeding of the Peregrine falcon, White-backed woodpecker, and Lesser White-fronted goose. He serves as a member of various working groups and committees with EAZA and the IUCN Species Survival Commission. He is a consultant for the breeding and reintroduction of the Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) Programme, for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Peninsula Malaysia, Wildlife Conservation Centre at Sungai, Perak.
Program Officer - IUCN SCC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group
Kristin Leus lives and works in Belgium but is Program Officer for the European Regional Network of the IUCN SCC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), hosted by Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark. It is CBSG’s mission to save threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide. It does this by harnessing a global network of conservation professionals to develop and disseminate innovative and interdisciplinary science-based tools and methodologies, to provide culturally sensitive and respectful facilitation resulting in conservation strategies and action plans, to foster contributions of the ex situ community to species conservation and to promote global partnerships and collaborations. Kristin mostly develops computer models of animal populations as component parts of both in situ and ex situ species management plans and facilitates species conservation planning workshops. In addition, she is also population management advisor for the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and in this capacity provides population management expertise and training to EAZA’s committees and ex situ programme managers.
Kristin became involved with red pandas in 2004 when she facilitated the second edition of the Global Captive Breeding Masterplan for Red Panda and did the population biological analysis of the world captive population. At this meeting, the idea grew to hold a series Population and Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA – a species conservation planning process) for red panda and together with colleagues from CBSG South Asia and CBSG HQ in the US, Kristin facilitated the Red Panda Pre-PHVA workshop in India (2007) and the Red Panda PHVAs in Nepal (2010), China (2012) and India (2013). In 2012 she also facilitated workshop for the Global Captive Masterplan and for the creation of the Red Panda Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) under the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and as part of that carried out a new analysis of the global captive red panda population. All of this was more than sufficient to make capture her heart and mind for this wonderful species.
Nick spent the first 14 years of his career in the zoo world as Keeper and Curator of mammals at Jersey Zoo in the British Isles. He joined the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in 1989 to take up the post of Curator of a conservation breeding and reintroduction project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia working with Arabian oryx, sand gazelles and mountain gazelles. After achieving the first reintroductions of the 2 indigenous gazelle species, Nick was transferred to take up the post of Curator of Whipsnade Zoo in England. It was here where he first had the chance to work with red pandas. During his 28 years with ZSL Nick had a number of roles including being Senior Curator of both London and Whipsnade Zoos and leading the conservation breeding and reintroduction projects for the organisation. Making his first visit to Nepal in 1987 as part of a project with the greater one-horned Asian rhino, Nick went on to make many visits working with the team at Central Zoo in Kathmandu and then as part of the group that developed the South Asia Vulture Recovery Project in Nepal and India. Through his work there, Nick developed a real love for Nepal, its people and wildlife so was more than happy to accept the invitation to join the Board of RPN.
Over the years, Nick has sat on a number of committees for the British and European zoo associations including the Conservation Committee and the Technical Assistance Committee and was Chair of the Rhinoceros Taxon Advisory Group and the Golden Lion Tamarin Programme Coordinator. Nick is a member of several IUCN SSC Specialist Groups and the Saola Working Group.
Real Estate Investor
Noam is the Treasurer of the Board and is a graduate in Finance from Yeshiva University, New York, New York. His background includes working in structured finance at Merrill Lynch and trading technology stocks at Schonfeld Securities. He is currently a real estate investor and is the founder of a real estate business that owns and manages properties in Indiana, Florida, and California. He is passionate about the world's forests and preserving them for years to come.
Regional Representative Asia - Wildlife Works Carbon LLC
Brian's first walk into the steep, terraced mid-hills of Nepal inspired him to want to take action in preserving the remaining forests in eastern Nepal. As a community education resource volunteer (CERV) in Peace Corps Nepal, he was a catalyst for the founding of four environmental youth groups which spawned several community leaders. In order to learn more about international conservation, Brian extended his Peace Corps service and transferred to Guatemala to work at a wildlife refuge operated by The Nature Conservancy. While working in Guatemala, he recognized the pivotal role of science in long-term conservation, so in 2000, he enrolled in San Jose State University’s Environmental Studies graduate program. To complete a master’s degree as a Fulbright Scholar, Brian conducted research on the status of the red panda in the Ilam region of Nepal's Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung corridor. These experiences reinforced his conviction that conservation can be achieved only with long-term commitment. Brian founded and managed Red Panda Network from 2005 to September 2011, when he transitioned to work as Regional Representative Asia for Wildlife Works, our partner for preparing a REDD project that can generate long-term funding from carbon offsets. Brian continues to work on the RPN board of directors to capitalize on promises made to a community and region that has captivated his spirit.