Our team

Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Head of Research

A biologist by training, Dr Christoph Schwitzer received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Cologne, Germany, for his study on the nutritional ecology of lemurs, which he conducted in several European zoos. He worked as part of the primatological research group at Cologne Zoo for several years and also co-coordinated the European Endangered Species Programme for Ruffed lemurs. In 2003 he took on the role of Programme Coordinator for the Association Européenne pour l’Etude et la Conservation des Lémuriens (AEECL) in northwest Madagascar, where he worked in a field research and conservation programme that has recently led to the creation of a new national park. Since August 2006 Christoph is Head of Research at BCSF, and since May 2007 he is also Executive Secretary of AEECL.

Christoph’s main research interests are the conservation ecology of lemurs in altered habitats as well as the nutritional ecology of frugivores. He is in charge of the ‘Research for Conservation’ Programme at BCSF and Bristol Zoo Gardens and is also supervising a number of PhD and MSc/DEA studies on the ecology of different critically endangered lemur species in north-western Madagascar.

Dr Sue Dow, Research Officer

Sue Dow trained as a Zoologist at the University of Oxford and carried out a PhD at the University of Exeter on foraging and learning in pigeons. She has carried out research in Bristol on the biomechanics of bird flight and carried out investigations into tendon injuries and humane treatments for horses. She held a part-timer post at London Zoo where she set up a pilot environmental enrichment programme.

She has worked at Bristol Zoo Gardens since 1992 combining working on building projects and co-ordinating research projects carried out in the zoo. She is a member of the BIAZA Research Group.

Sue’s main research interests are in animal behaviour, the effects of enclosure design on the behavioural repertoire of captive animals, and environmental enrichment as a husbandry technique. She maintains an interest in optimal foraging and food selection, particularly in birds, in captive and semi-natural situations.

Sue is a part time Research Officer and is carrying out a longitudinal study of gorilla social dynamics.

Neil Maddison, Head of Conservation

Neil Maddison gained his first degree in Zoology at the University of Bristol and went on to work for several conservation charities before joining the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society in 1997, initially as Development Manager. His experience in field conservation has led him to appreciate more fully the link between meeting people’s needs and wildlife conservation. He now specialises on working with communities to develop sustainable solutions whilst taking pressure off natural resources, looking for practical ways to support disadvantaged people in their development. These solutions often lead to an examination of the ‘business case’ for conservation, and creating new sources of revenue for local communities to find ‘win-win’ solutions for people and wildlife. Neil obtained his MBA from the University of the West of England, with a specialisation in pro-poor ecotourism. He is a Trustee of Ape Action Africa, an NGO working to address the commercial bushmeat trade in Africa and was previously a Trustee of the Hawk and Owl Trust. He is also currently a member of the Conservation Specialist Breeding Group and the Association of MBAs.