Karen Fifield MNZM, Wellington Zoo

Karen is the Chief Executive at Wellington Zoo. She is also the Zoo’s champion for sustainability. Under her leadership, the Zoo became the first carboNZero certified zoo in the world in 2013.

Karen constantly seeks to reduce the Zoo’s carbon emissions. Initiatives have included bespoke compost systems, installing renewable energy sources and adding the first electric vehicle to the Zoo’s fleet. The Zoo’s retail offering has been revolutionised with around 50% of the shop’s stock recycled or eco-sourced. The philosophy of environmental accountability underwrites Wellington Zoo’s entire decision making process, especially in regards to community engagement, construction projects, and resource use.

She ensures commitment to community and social sustainability through initiatives such as Neighbours Night, where all the Zoo’s immediate neighbours, including those who live in social housing and recent arrivals to New Zealand, can come to the Zoo for free. She has championed the Zoo achieving Be: Accessible Gold rating so it can be accessible to as wide a spectrum of our community as possible. Wellington Zoo pays staff the Living Wage.

During Karen’s tenure as Chief Executive, well over two million people have visited Wellington Zoo and have heard sustainable behaviour change messages. These include choosing FSC certified wood and paper products; reduce, reuse recycle; and advocating for sustainable palm oil.