Established in 2002 by Steve and Terri Irwin, Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors is on the frontline when it comes to wildlife conservation. Helping to protect endangered species and preserve their natural ecosystems, Wildlife Warriors (WW) gives a fighting chance to some of the most vulnerable creatures in the world.
WW Director of Development, Cynthia Thompson, is a warrior and an animal activist. “One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is communicating with people who are passionate and motivated to raise awareness and funds,” she says. “It’s so inspiring to hear the joy in their voice or see the sparkle in their eye when they start to imagine what they can accomplish.”
Luxury coach tour company AAT Kings employs a team of these inspired individuals, many of whom have involved themselves in sustainability projects such as knitting sweaters for the little penguins on Phillip Island. “If we are going to promote Australia and New Zealand to the world, and share our amazing destinations with our guests, we need to give back,” says Global Managing Director of AAT Kings, Anthony Hayes. “And from my perspective that means we should also be part of the process to protect our wildlife.”
Providing WW’s main project – the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital – with a donation of $48,000 over the course of two years, AAT Kings are primarily supporting the rehabilitation of the iconic koala, an animal Cynthia describes as the hospital’s “most specialised patients”. After seeing first-hand some of the injuries koalas endure from dogs, cars and environmental degradation, Anthony says, “It’s a nice feeling to know we are doing something to make a difference.”
While corporate philanthropy is certainly a step in the right direction, Cynthia suggests we all need to take responsibility for our footprint on this earth. “When it comes to habitat conservation and wildlife protection, is not just about what we actively do; it is also what we choose not to do that makes a difference,” she says. “The work being carried out in the field by anti-poaching patrols, vets and conservation units is vital in defending the future of threatened species. But the truth is that without the support of responsible consumers making conscious decisions, those in the field are fighting a battle that may prove impossible to win.”