Staff at Newquay Zoo are thrilled to congratulate Education Officer Kathy Baker, who after years of hard work and dedication has received her PhD in Psychology.

She graduated from the University of Exeter on Saturday 19th January with friends and family who helped her celebrate her achievement.

Kathy said; ‘‘ I am now officially a Doctor! I would like to thank my colleagues at the Zoo for supporting me whilst I was pursuing my qualification. I am looking forward to the next step - getting my research published.’’

Kathy’s PhD specialises in animal behaviour and welfare, with a particular focus on primate personality. With 13 different species of primate on site at Newquay Zoo, including squirrel monkeys, Diana monkeys and capuchins, as well as Kathy’s favourites the Sulawesi crested black macaques, there was no shortage of subjects for her research!

As one of the Zoo’s Education Officers, Kathy is responsible for offering interesting and informative talks, engaging the public with the animals and wider conservation issues, as well as teaching school and university groups. She also supervises degree level students on all aspects of zoo research, sharing her knowledge and expertise.

In the future Kathy would like to volunteer at an in-situ project where she can see whether her findings apply to animals in their natural habitat. She added; ‘‘As my research was focused on animals in zoos, it would be really interesting to see whether or not my findings apply to wild animals. I would love to go to the Selamatkan Yaki project in Sulawesi, which focuses on the education of the local community in order to save the Sulawesi crested black macaque form extinction. Newquay Zoo, and myself, have already been involved in the project from afar, but I would love to go over there in person.’’

Zoo Director Stewart Muir said; ‘‘On behalf of everyone at the Zoo I would like to offer my congratulations to Kathy – years of dedication and hard work has paid off, and we are all very proud of her.’’

Kathy is the Education Co-Ordinator for the Selamatkan Yaki campaign, an integrated conservation programme which aims to save macaque habitat. As part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT), Newquay Zoo is playing an important part in the campaign by developing education materials and contributing to the captive breeding programme. Education methods used in Sulawesi villages are working, as there has been an increase in empathy towards the species and an increase in efforts to help preserve their natural habitat. Kathy has worked to produce posters and other educational materials alongside the children’s book to be read to Sulawesi schoolchildren. She has also created the sock puppet kits, which allows you to make your own macaque sock puppet and all money raised from the sale of these kits will go towards the conservation of the macaques.

As part of the Selamatkan Yaki campaign, staff from the WWCT are currently conducting research on the island of Bacan in the Philippines, assessing the Sulawesi crested black macaque population. To learn more about their research, and the project, click here. If you would like to know more about how you can help fund vital research into these beautiful and critically endangered primates, click here.

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