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Bluespotted stingray (Taeniura lymma), Antwerp Zoo (Belgium) - © Rolf Veenhuizen


Steering Committee

The ICZ is managed by a steering committee wich is currently made up of representatives of the eight ‘steering committee associations’. In order to widen our representation there are also two steering committee members who are not connected to one of these associations plus an executive officer.

Our current steering committee members are:

Lex van der Leije (Harpij)
Lex van der Leije
After my study with two internships in Rotterdam Zoo (the Netherlands), I was fortuned enough to get a job there as a zookeeper. After I worked for a year on several departments, I moved to the south of the Netherlands in July 2009 and started my job as a hoofstock keeper in GaiaZoo. In 2015 I was appointed as teamleader for the hoofstock department. Since 2016 I´m a board member for the Dutch zookeeper association `Stichting De Harpij´ and steering committee member for the ICZ. In April 2021 I was elected as the President of the ICZ.
Raúl Cabrera Porcel (AICAS)
Vice-president, Conservation Chair
Raúl Cabrera Porcel

Biologist and working with primates since 1997. Head Keeper in MONA Primate Rescue Centre (Girona) and as Keeper at Las Águilas Park (Tenerife), Madrid Zoo and currently at Barcelona Zoo. I did stages at Durrell Wildlife Preservation Trust, Monkey World (UK) and Apenheul (NL), and cooperated with in situ conservation centres such as Orangutan Foundation (Indonesia), Limbe Wildlife Center (Cameroon), Lola Ya Bonobo Sanctuary, Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Center (RDCongo) and Engangered Primate Rescue Center, Vietnam. President of NGO SOSPrimates, association created to help fundraising CRPL and support the primate rehabilitation centers. I am the AICAS representatives in ICZ and also the ICZ Conservation Committee Chair and ICZ Vice-president.

Jocelyn Hockley (ASZK)
Jocelyn Hockley

I have been working with Australian Wildlife in Zoos for 25 years. I have worked all over Australia and specialised in hand-raising and conservation, working with some of Australia’s most endangered wildlife including Tasmanian Devils and Orange-bellied Parrots. I am also a Vet Nurse and have worked in Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation at a Wildlife Hospital. These days I split my time between Records Officer for Featherdale Wildlife Park and teaching Certificate III in Captive Animals (Zookeeping) at the local Technical College. I have been a member of the ASZK for over 20 years and have served on the committee as Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer for over 15 years, being made a Life Member in 2017.

Melinda Schlegel (BdZ)
Outreach chair
Melinda Schlegel

Although originally from the United States, I have been working at the Saarbruecken Zoo in Germany since 2015, and joined the ICZ Steering Committee in 2018 as the representative to the BdZ. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology & International Studies in 2007, and worked as a zookeeper at several American institutions before moving to Germany. In my current position, I work with hoof stock, carnivores, and nocturnal animals. When not working at the zoo, I spend my free time studying for my Master of Science degree in Biodiversity, Wildlife & Ecosystem Health through an online program from the University of Edinburgh. I also provide editing services via my small business, Zoomediate, create the ICZ newsletter, KeeperNotes, and spend time with my husband and Irish Wolfhound.

Sara Steward
Executive Officer & Secretary
Sara Steward

I have been working with animals since 2000, but I have been a Senior-I Rhino Keeper at Busch Gardens, Florida since 2005. I am fortunate to work with both African species of rhinos on a small team that is exclusively focused on their care. I have Bachelors in Science in Organismal Biology & a Masters in Collection Management. I joined the ICZ Steering Committee in 2012 as the AAZK Representative and became the ICZ’s Executive Officer in 2016.

Victoria Snook (ABWAK)
Congress Chair
Victoria Snook

I’m currently deputy of the african experience at Port Lympne hotel and reserve. I have been a zoo keeper for 17 years, mainly working with hoofstock (giraffe), but have worked with most taxa. I have been part of the abwak council for 6 years.

Emilia Lastica-Ternura (AKTAP)
Emilia Lastica-Ternura

I graduated as doctor of veterinary medicine in 1999 afterwhich I immediately worked at a conservation center as keeper/curator/veterinarian/educator for the Negros Forest Park, managing conservation programmes for endangered wildlife of central Philippines where me and my team bred Visayan Tarictic Hornbills, Philippine Spotted Deer, Visayan Warty Pigs, Philippine Sailfin Lizards, Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeons and others. I am currently the president of the Animal Keepers and Trainers Association of the Philippines, helping keepers in the country professionalise zookeeping through training and engagement with policy makers.

Macarena Santa Maria Loydi (GACAS)
Macarena Santa Maria Loydi

began working with animals as volunteer in the educational area and elaborating animal enrichment. I realized a professional diploma in wildlife management under controlled conditions and finally got a job as zookeeper. Later I was teacher of the diploma for five years. I am an active member of the directive board of the GACAS Association since 2015 and nowadays I’m coordinator of zookeepers at Ecoparque de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sébastien Pouvreau (AFSA)
Sébastien Pouvreau

I was initially a baker/pastry-chef, a job I have had for 9 years. I stopped this to follow my passion; work with animals.

I finnished one of the educations in France to become a zookeeper in 2006 and I found work directly after. I have had multiple contracts in differents zoos and I’m now in the Parc Zoologique de Montpellier (south of France, on the mediterranean cost) since 2011. I’m currently on the “south-american” department, including the amazonian greenhouse.

At the same time, I joined the AFSA’s steering committee in 2008 and currently work as the secretary. In 2015 I also joined the ICZ’s steering committee at the congress in Leipzig, Germany, as AFSA’s representative.

Denise Luminelli
Denise Luminelli

I’m an animal keeper and trainer at Società Zoologica di Pistoia Srl in Italy. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2014 and a Master’s degree in Animal Behaviour in 2017 from Florence University in Italy. I also completed a six-month traineeship in animal care and integrated conservation at Pistoia Zoo in 2017. I am currently involved in scientific research in the field of captive animal welfare and training. Since 2019 I’m a board member for the Italian zookeeper association “A.I.G.ZOO” and steering committee member for the ICZ.

Dominika Winiarska
Dominika Winiarska

Currently I am working as an African elephant keeper at Poznan Zoo in Poland. I have over two years of experience working with primates and small mammals, also did some volunteering work with many different species previously, carnivores mostly. I have an MSc in Animal Biology and as an ambitious person, I still try to broaden my views in any possible way. Therefore, I took a few distance learning courses such as ‘Animal Behaviour and Welfare’ and at present, I am in the middle of my DMZAA course. I am an independent member of the ICZ steering committee as I do not represent any association.


The ICZ Advisor assist by evaluating projects, performances, and progress of the ICZ Steering Committee and offers guidance.

Our current Advisor is:

Sabrina Brando

Sabrina BrandoI am the director of AnimalConcepts, including the Practical Animal Welfare Science platform, a PhD candidate at the University of Stirling in Scotland on the topic of human wellbeing, and the Primate Care Training Program Coordinator for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. I teach at various universities and colleges and work with many zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries worldwide, on animal welfare, behaviour, environmental enrichment, animal training, the human-animal relationship, and other topics. I am a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional and feel compassion awareness is key in the animal care profession in order for animal care professionals to serve animals and people with compassion and integrity.

Other team-members

Diana Fernández
Diana Fernández

I’ve worked for 10 years at Lisbon Zoo, always in the Herbivore team where I’ve got the pleasure and privilege to work with Indian Rhinos, Okapis, Angola Giraffes and others. Since 2017 I’ve started collaborating with AICAS and became the second AICAS representative in ICZ as well. In both associations I had the opportunity to give my contribution and started to get involved in their projects.

Liz Romer
Liz Romer

I have been in the Zoo industry since 1982 after completing a Bachelor of Science. I worked at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland before doing some work in National Parks and Wildlife and the Australian Museum. Since 2000 I have produced the ASZK journal Thylacinus and am a past president, life member and was the representative of ASZK on the ICZ from 2004 – 2021 and remain active on the Outreach committee. On the ICZ committee I have been chair of the congress committee for Australia 2006, Singapore 2012, Leipzig 2015 and Argentina 2018 and held the position of treasurer and more recently until 2021 was the President. I was the Animal Collection Coordinator for a new zoo in Sydney Australia which is opened late 2019 and now work as Assistant Director for the Australian Post Entry Quarantine Facility in Melbourne Australia.

Yianna Cooling 
Yianna Stanley

I have been working in zoos for 16 years with my most recent role being the Team Leader of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Inverts of Twycross Zoo I am an assessor for Diploma in Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA) run by Sparsholt College and BIAZA, covering subjects found in modern collections.

Vice Chair of ABWAK (Association of British Wild Animal Keepers) council and have previously represented ABWAK on the ICZ steering committee. Currently supporting the conservation committee.