Patrick Martin-Vegue

My animal career now spans 4 decades but I began working as a keeper with exotic felines, elephants, camels, and many assorted zoo animals at a wildlife park in California called Marine World/Africa USA. The first large cat I ever handled was a cougar named “Charlie”, who had been the star of Disney’s iconic film, “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar”. The special bond I had with him ignited my love of big cats. My specialty soon became working with tigers and lions and my philosophy has been to give the best quality of life for each animal by providing multiple forms of enrichment and an assortment of activities. In other words, make their lives fun! This has also included advanced husbandry techniques to improve medical management of large cats, and other animals under my care.

In 1995, I created and implemented the tiger program at Dreamworld in Australia, a world-class exhibition with standards exceeding industry norms and accredited through the ZAA (Zoo and Aquarium Association Australia). I am also a passionate zoo professional and advocate for wider conservation issues affecting endangered big cats throughout Asia. Under my initiative, we began the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, a registered charity. During my career I have helped to have raise and commit over three million dollars to in-situ conservation programs in Sumatra, Far Eastern Russia, Nepal, and India through Big Cat Conservation Alliance and Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation making us one of the largest zoological contributors to tiger conservation globally.

I have assisted in animal protection patrols in India and Sumatra with the dedicated teams of welfare rangers operating in incredibly difficult conditions. I am proud of the work I have been able to be a part of and the results for protecting tiger populations and critical habitat. I have vetted in-situ projects for Big Cat Conservation Alliance in Malaysia and India, focused on protection of wild tiger’s habitat corridors, and indigenous management of wilderness areas. I feel strongly that zoos have a very important role and obligation to support on-ground efforts in range countries. My long career has given me incredible opportunities to work and learn about numerous species of amazing animals. It is now my honor and privilege to work with APA in protecting the safety and well-being of animals seen on screens worldwide