Laura van Zonneveld

Laura van Zonneveld started with a vocational education, moved on to Van Hall Larenstein and finished with a master. ‘I  found a room in a nice dormitory and started studying Applied Animal Sciences at Van Hall Larenstein. Because my vocational education was related to Animal Sciences I could quickly move on to the second year. In the beginning it was quite exciting: the training was all in English and the level of education and the teaching methods were different from what  was used to at educational training. Yet is went very well.

In my third year I decided to choose biology and to leave husbandry behind me for now. I started a minor Biology and Animal Science at Wageningen University. To me it seemed the perfect combination to acquire knowledge about ecology, nature conservation and anatomy. Doing this Minor at the University was really tough, but I did not give up, and I succeeded!

Next, I plunged into a short-term project about the preservation of the black-tailed godwit in Dutch agriculture and subsequently I flew to New Zealand to learn more about the foraging behavior of the Northern Gannet. During my seven month-stay there I learned an awful lot about doing fieldwork, setting up and supervising scientific projects and data processing in order to produce a scientific publication. My thesis was again a combination of agriculture and nature conservation, this time a research into the presence of meadow birds on farmland.

I am passionate about nature conservation and an important part of that is education. That is why after my graduation I decided to do a postgraduate teaching-course at Aeres Hogeschool in Wageningen; a very busy year in which I  have learned how to transfer knowledge and supervise groups.

After that I moved to Sweden to do a masters in Applied Science and Animal Biology. This course focused on Animal Behaviour, in-situ and ex-situ nature conservation. Here I focused on the research and improvement of animal welfare in Zoological gardens. For my thesis I researched the echolocation patterns of bottlenose dolphins. This yielded information and techniques that can be very useful for both dolphin species living in the wild and those held in captivity.

In Sweden I worked briefly as a teacher, but after that I returned to Holland. I was very fortunate in the jobs that I found: all the knowledge and experience  I gained were a further contribution to my education.

At the moment I work as  coordinator at the Nederlandse Vereniging van Dierentuinen (The Dutch Association of Zoological Gardens). Here I monitor and improve the quality of Zoos. I engage in research, education, welfare and security. In addition, I work for the RSPCA and as a freelance teacher and author for the LOI (Leidse Onderwijs Instellingen).

I have never planned far ahead, I just went with the flow and did what seemed best at the time. When I finished my vocational education, I never could have dreamt I was going to achieve all this.’

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