Bristol Zoological Society celebrates International Women’s Day

As the world marks International Women’s Day, Bristol Zoological Society celebrates the achievements of some of its key members of staff.

The first International Women’s Day began in 1909 to campaign for better pay and rights for women, but is now aimed at inspiring females across the world.

At Bristol Zoological Society – which operates Bristol Zoo and Wild Place Project – 50 per cent of the senior managers are women, and over 61 per cent of the total workforce are female.

Here we showcase the successes of three key members of staff:

1)    Dr Gráinne McCabe, Head of Field Conservation and Science

Gráinne is a world-leading primate expert and was appointed as the Head of Conservation Science of Bristol Zoological Society in 2014.

Gráinne now heads up the Field Conservation and Science Department and leads the Society’s growing team of lecturers and research officers. She is also developing and implementing a proactive conservation strategy for the Society.

Most recently, Gráinne returned from a three-week trip to Cameroon to begin monitoring and tracking wild giraffe and other species native to the area, such as hippos and eland.

Gráinne received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Texas, for her study on the reproductive ecology of the Endangered Sanje mangabey monkey in Tanzania. She also received her M.A. from the University of Calgary, Canada, in Primatology.

Gráinne has spent many years working in the field on conservation in Central America and Africa, specialising in primate behaviour and ecology in Costa Rica and Tanzania, and trying to combat the bushmeat trade in Equatorial Guinea.


2)    Wendy Walton, director of commercial operations

Wendy joined the Society’s senior management team as director of commercial operations in 2009. She is responsible for income generation, as well as overseeing the marketing and events teams; guest services; fundraising department; and the contracts with partner organisations running the zoo catering and retail operations. 

Wendy was instrumental in the 2011 ‘Wow! Gorillas’ campaign which saw dozens of colourful life-size gorilla sculptures places around the city in celebration of the Zoo’s 175th birthday. The subsequent auction of the gorillas raised over £427,000 for the Zoo’s conservation projects for critically endangered gorillas.

In 2013 Wendy has also played a leading role in the Society’s launch of Wild Place Project in South Gloucestershire. Previously, Wendy has worked for the WWT (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust), running their site in Arundel; and for many years as head of marketing and programming at the international conference and events venue, The Brighton Centre.


3)    Michelle Barrows, head of veterinary services and conservation medicine

Michelle leads a team of three vets and two vet nurses, treating over 400 different animal species, from lions, gorillas and okapi, to penguins, iguanas and crayfish.

Michelle has worked as head vet for Bristol Zoo and Wild Place Project since 2010. Prior to this she spent seven years working at Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa. 

Michelle completed a zoology degree at University College London, followed by a veterinary degree at Glasgow University in 1998.  She obtained her RCVS certificate in zoological medicine in 2003 and the diploma in 2011 and has a postgraduate certificate in conservation medicine from Murdoch University.  She is also a clinical teacher at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences.


Bristol Zoological Society’s Strategic Management Team is 50% female:

  • Dr Bryan Carroll – C.E.O
  • Kathryn Price – Director of Finance
  • Dr Christoph Schwitzer - Director of Conservation
  • Carol Groves – Head of HR
  • Tom Hedges – Director of Estates
  • Wendy Walton – Director of Commercial Operations

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