Co-founder & Managing Director
Nicola (Nic) has more than 20 years’ experience working with captive wildlife. Nic co-founded Global Animal Welfare together with friend and former colleague Annemarie Weegenaar in 2019.
She has an MSc in Wildlife Biology & Conservation as well as a Zoo Animal Management qualification from the UK. She is the former Bear & Vet Team Director at Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre; where she worked for 12 years with Asiatic black bears, Eurasian brown bears, Tibetan brown bears and Tibetan macaques. Nic oversaw the team of local and international team of more than 70 staff ensuring optimum animal care through a comprehensive, integrated veterinary and behavioural management programme. Nic’s role also meant working closely with the international team involved in communications and fundraising, managing the departmental budget and being a key member of the strategic planning team working towards ending bear bile farming in China. Nic spent several years working in education as an animal care assessor in the UK. She spent nearly a decade working as a zoo keeper with a rage of species including North American black bears, Prezwalski horses, North American bison, big cats and a range of primate species. She has also spent time volunteering in Uganda and Vietnam as a researcher on conservation projects and also at the Colobus Trust in Kenya and at the BSBCC (Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Trust).
Nic is the Co-chair for the IUCN Bear Specialist Group. She has presented extensively at international bear research and welfare conferences and offers consultancy services to animal welfare NGOs, zoos, rescue centres and sanctuaries.
Nic’s professional life is focused on improving and optimising animal welfare in captive facilities, capacity building and strategies that encompass the bigger picture of animal welfare and conservation.
Co-founder & Chair of Board
Annemarie co-founded Global Animal Welfare together with friend and former colleague Nic Field in 2019. Annemarie has worked with captive wild animals for more than 15 years.
From working as a keeper and researcher with native animals in the Netherlands, to working with various bear species in Asia, Annemarie worked with sun bears in Borneo and trained staff to care for them. She worked with Asiatic black bears and Malayan sun bears in China and Vietnam. Together with a dedicated Animals Asia team she established a bear sanctuary in Vietnam, where rescued bile farmed bears have a second chance in life. As the Bear & Vet Team Director she built up a team of 50 staff members, ensuring the best possible care was provided to nearly 150 rescued bears. She hand-reared orphaned cubs, integrated many bears into social groups, established diets, was involved with behavioural husbandry training, established husbandry and management protocols and coordinated the rescues. She worked together with the construction team to design multiple bear houses and enclosures. Annemarie successfully completed Animals Asia’s application for accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. A short stay in Australia introduced Annemarie to working with marsupials. After 17 years away, Annemarie moved back to the Netherlands, where she worked as the Director of Bears in Mind, a Dutch NGO who initiated a sanctuary for abused European brown bears. She is currently a manager at the Dutch Animal Protection Society where she oversees various shelters of rescued dogs and cats and large teams of volunteers of animal ambulances who rescue pets and wildlife.
Sarah is a doctoral candidate in reptile cognition and her research focuses on how cognition can support conservation in endangered species.
She has an honours degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and following her undergraduate research, which looked at how operant conditioning could improve the welfare of captive crocodilians, she went on to complete the AZA Crocodilian Biology and Management Programme.
Sarah’s passion is conservation and welfare and she has worked in zoos and rescue centres around the world. She worked with reptiles and large carnivores at ZSL London Zoo as well as others. As a bear manager at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, she worked closely with Annemarie for several years. Sarah is experienced in the husbandry, training, and management of a range of species and has worked extensively with reptiles, large felids and bears.
She has spent the last few years as a programme leader and lecturer in BSc (Hons) Animal Management in the UK and holds a Post-graduate certificate in education in the lifelong learning sector.
Their experience in bear welfare and management together with their expertise and advancement of animal welfare in Asia has been second to none, and I have no hesitation in recommending both Nic and Annemarie and their Global Animal Welfare foundation to anyone who has the privilege of working with them.
I had the absolute pleasure of working with both Nic and Annemarie for more than a decade as they each headed up our bear sanctuaries in China and Vietnam respectively. Their dedication and professionalism shone – with both facilities and the ongoing staff training managed under the highest protocols and care, and the full operation of the sanctuaries “safe” in their hands. Their experience in bear welfare and management together with their expertise and advancement of animal welfare in Asia has been second to none, and I have no hesitation in recommending both Nic and Annemarie and their Global Animal Welfare foundation to anyone who has the privilege of working with them.
Jill Robinson MBE, Dr med vet hc, Hon LLD
Founder & CEO
Animals Asia Foundation
Board of Directors
Lilian van Hoof
Lilian is a teacher with 15 years’ experience in education including Dutch, sustainability and environmental permits and enforcement.
Anne has 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector and holds a business degree majoring in Public Relations and a certificate in Direct Marketing.
Dr. Bando completed her undergraduate degree (B.S.) in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida where she gained experience in Guatemala volunteering with institutions rehabilitating wildlife species rescued from the wildlife trade.
She supervises students during internships and is a student coach as well. Lilian has a Bachelor degree in Environmental Science, she has a teaching degree and a second degree in the Dutch language. Lilian is committed to sustainability. She is a real team player and is very creative. Lilian has travelled extensively, she spends a lot of time with her family and enjoys the outdoors with her dog.
Anne has always loved being around animals but it was after feeling completely helpless when she saw a street dog with matted fur and conjunctivitis while traveling through Mexico in 1994 that she decided she wanted to do something to help neglected animals overseas.
On her return to Australia, she began working in the not-for-profit sector gaining valuable experience in fundraising and events management. Five years later she began working for the NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) as Publicity Officer and then for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) as Campaigns and Publicity Coordinator, finally achieving her goal to work in international animal welfare. From WSPA she took on the role of Australian Director for Animals Asia Foundation (Australia) where she spent 16 years managing fundraising, corporate governance and marketing for the AUS and NZ markets. Anne currently manages the regular giving program for the University of Tasmania and also sits on the Board of Brightside Farm Sanctuary. In addition to her 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, Anne holds a business degree majoring in Public Relations and a certificate in Direct Marketing from the Australian Direct Marketing Association.
She obtained her graduate degree (M.S.) in marine biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks studying the interactions of climate and nutritional stress on Steller sea lion populations. Dr. Bando then completed her veterinary degree from Massey University in New Zealand during which time she sought additional wildlife medicine experience through externships in Australia and Canada. Dr. Bando served as senior veterinarian for the animal welfare charity Animals Asia Foundation’s China Bear Rescue Centre in Sichuan Province, China, rehabilitating bears rescued from the bear bile industry as well as assisting with outreach projects to improve the health and welfare of companion animals as well as captive wildlife species. She recently completed her PhD investigating cardiovascular disease in bile-farmed Asiatic black bears, addressing a serious welfare and wildlife conservation issue affecting bears across Asia. Dr. Bando also has experience performing health checks of chimpanzees rescued from the wildlife trade in Sierra Leone. Dr. Bando worked as a Captive Wildlife Veterinarian within the Captive Animal Law Enforcement division of the PETA Foundation, addressing cases of abuse and neglect of wildlife trafficked and exploited by unaccredited roadside zoos, traveling circuses, the pet trade, and cub petting operations. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Professional and Clinical Skills at University of Central Lancashire, helping to develop a progressive and animal-welfare focused veterinary curriculum. Dr. Bando believes in sustainable change by promoting and protecting the conservation and welfare of wildlife through compassionate education, advocacy, and humane research. Dr. Bando hopes to empower future veterinarians with the skills they need to thrive as advocates for the welfare of all animals.
David Neale is the Animal Welfare Director for the Animals Asia Foundation.
David leads a series of animal welfare campaigns aimed at improving the welfare of captive wild animals in China and Vietnam.
Debbie has worked with large exotic animals for over 30 years in some of the UK’s leading
zoological facilities and holds a certificate in Zoo Animal Management. Her extensive
experience has seen her care for a variety or primate species, 3 bear species and a range of
ungulates and carnivores.
Dr. Jake Veasey
Dr Jake Veasey is a zoologist specialising in animal welfare science and conservation biology. Jake has carried out research topics including ‘What do zoo animals miss (if anything) about habitats they have never experienced?’ and solving behavioural-ecological enigmas first identified by Darwin.
Working in partnership with the China Association of
Zoological Gardens and wildlife rescue centres in Vietnam to implement management
training initiatives for animal managers and vets and enclosure improvements.
David leads a campaign to end elephant riding in Vietnam and has established the country’s
first ethical elephant tourism experience in partnership with the Yok Don National Park
David also leads a capacity building education programme to improve the welfare of all
animals, develop animal welfare concepts within the veterinary teaching curriculum, and
humane education initiatives within schools.
David holds a first degree in Environmental Science and a Masters degree with distinction
in Conservation Biology. David delivers lectures on animal welfare issues at universities and
public venues across China and Vietnam and participates within both national and
international conferences, disseminating information and developing strategies to improve
the welfare of animals across Asia.
David is a member of the Asia for Animals coalition. A coalition of international non-
governmental organizations (NGO's) campaigning on animal protection issues across Asia.
David is also a member of the Species Survival Network an international coalition of over
eighty NGOs committed to the promotion, enhancement, and strict enforcement of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Debbie has managed large teams of keepers and inspired and mentored many young
keepers over her career. Her passion and commitment to wildlife and animal welfare has
seen Debbie play a key role on a number of overseas projects and workshops, including the
rehoming of 4 brown bears from Japan to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in 2017 and helping to
educate and train staff in Hanoi Zoo where enrichment is now an everyday occurrence.
Debbie is currently the Animal Manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Park where she oversees a
team of 18 keepers ranging from non-qualified keepers to team leaders , also responsible
for the hoof stock and carnivore health and safety protocols for both animals and staff /
visitors partaking in various animal experiences , and, liaising with vets regarding heath and
preventative health matters at YWP. Her practical working knowledge in animal
management has proved invaluable in the development of zoo facilities and animal
housing/enclosures and enrichment within the UK, Vietnam and Japan
Debbie’s passion for animals extends to her home she shares with husband Alan and their 3
dogs, 4 cats and a very old tortoise. Debbie has also worked and owned horses and farm
animals over the last 30 years.
Debbie is also a Trustee for the Irish Wolfhound Charitable Trust.
Widely published on the welfare of wild animals in zoos, Jake has nearly two decades of experience as a zoo director in some of Europe and North America’s largest zoos. He regularly advises government organisations and NGOs across the world, including as a ministerially-appointed advisor to the UK Government on zoo animal welfare.
Jake’s research interests include how insights from evolutionary biology can inform welfare prioritisation and welfare policy. His findings challenge the influence of traditional animal welfare metrics on animal welfare management and he is particularly well-known for his work on large herbivore and carnivore welfare and conservation, having worked in the wild and captivity with bears, elephant, giraffe, rhino and antelope.
Gabriella is a bear ecologist and conservation biologist who has mainly been working in
South East Asia for the past 25+ years. She finalized her PhD on the effects of El Niño and
forest fires on the ecology of sun bears in Kalimantan. Gabriella is still actively working on
habitat conservation in Indonesia.
Fiona has more than twenty years experience
in journalism, and has worked as a correspondent and editor across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Born to a British father and Dutch mother, she speaks several languages, and graduated from Cambridge with a BA in Arabic.
She has pioneered the development of an innovative (sun bear) conservation education centre in East Kalimantan visited now by more than 70.000 local people annually, and is interested in wildlife surveys, monitoring techniques, and training/capacity building of local conservation NGOs and students. Gabriella is co-chair of the Sun Bear Expert Team of the IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group.
She is currently a senior lecturer in journalism at Kingston University, and has previously worked as a consultant for the UN and the UAE government, among others. Fiona has a real passion for the natural world, travel and human rights. She first met co-founder Nic in the 1990s, when they volunteered together on a conservation project in Uganda. In 2015, she co-founded a charity helping Syrian refugees to resettle in her local area, Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees, for which she remains a trustee.
Jill is the CEO and Founder of Animals Asia.
She heads Animals Asia’s team of over 300 enthusiastic staff. She divides her time between mainland China, Vietnam and Hong Kong,
and travels frequently around the world to give presentations at conferences and speak at fundraising events.
Megan is a zoologist and a wildlife TV presenter with a passion for connecting people to the natural world. She has been fortunate enough to have travelled around the world from a young age which is where she developed a love for photography and filmmaking.
A hands-on leader, Jill is involved in all major decision-making. She works with the vet and bear teams during rescues and health checks and advises closely on construction projects. She visits dog and cat markets and zoos and safari parks throughout China to document the abuse of animals and over the years has made countless visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly with her own and Animals Asia’s animal-therapy dogs. She writes her own blog, her own speeches and presentations, is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines and a frequent guest on radio and TV shows. She has also co-written a children’s book about moon bears and co-written a number of scientific papers with Animals Asia’s vet teams. Born in the UK, Jill arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and spent 12 years working in Asia as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Repeatedly faced with scenes of widespread animal cruelty, she decided to introduce the concept of ‘animal welfare through people welfare’ and founded Dr Dog in Hong Kong in 1991 – the first animal-therapy programme in Asia. Jill founded Animals Asia in 1998 – five years after an encounter with a caged bear on a farm in southern China changed her life forever. Learning that bear bile could be replaced by herbs, she vowed to put an end to bear bile farming. Since then, Animals Asia has rescued over 530 bears in China and Vietnam. In 2010, both Animals Asia’s China and Vietnam rescue centres were awarded the Carole Noon Award for Sanctuary Excellence and in 2014 they were accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries – the only sanctuaries in China and Vietnam to have received this honour. Jill is a Council Member of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS) Herbal Committee and her outstanding contribution to animal welfare has been recognised with a number of awards. In 1995, she won the ‘Reader’s Digest’ Hero for Today award. In 1998, she was made an MBE by Queen Elizabeth of England. In 2008, she was named ‘Outstanding Earth Champion’ in Hong Kong and was appointed World Animal Day Ambassador for Asia. In 2010, she was one of 12 recognised foreigners given the ‘You Bring Charm to China’ award. Jill received an honorary doctorate in veterinary science from the University of Zurich, Switzerland in 2012, and an honorary law degree from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China in 2014. She shares her home in Hong Kong with her family of rescued dogs, cats and a tortoise.
Megan went on to study zoology at the University of Liverpool and has since presented documentaries revealing aspects of the illegal wildlife trade and environmental issues concerning pollution and activism. In 2020 she joined BBC Springwatch as a guest presenter showcasing some of the wildlife she encounters at home in the New Forest. She is very excited to be joining the dedicated Global Animal Welfare team to help build awareness for the protection and wellbeing of wildlife.