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Episode 18A: Jesse Golden & Okapi Conservation

March 14, 2018

Jesse Golden’s passion for conservation grew from playing in the swamps of Florida and hills of West Virginia as a child.  He received an A.S in Zoo Animal Technology at Santa Fe College, and a B.S in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.  For over eight years Jesse has worked with a variety of animals in zoos, specialising in the care of okapi, rhino, and cheetah.

Jesse worked with 24 individual okapi over a five year period and became involved with captive breeding, behavioural data collection and assisted reproduction techniques.  He credits okapi for teaching him valuable life lessons including patience, foresight and dodging flexible, prehensile tongues.  “Learning what truly motivates these animals allowed me to build relationships with each okapi and provide for their every need.  I was well rewarded by watching an okapi calf grow up to successfully have calves of her own during my career.”

In 2014, Jesse left the United States to travel across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific.  During this time, he was involved in numerous projects supporting wombat, tree kangaroo, kakapo and pelagic seabirds. Jesse currently resides in New Zealand with his girlfriend, Bryn, who keenly joins him on his wildlife explorations.  He is the Team Leader for Professional Development at Hamilton Zoo.

Jesse’s conservation ethic is influenced by the writings of Aldo Leopold, Bill Conway, Theodore Roosevelt, Tim Flannery and many others.  He firmly believes that conservation starts with people, and encourages others to make lifestyle changes that will have positive outcomes for wildlife.

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