Rebecca Willers is a real drive of nature. A passionate conservationist, she has devoted most of her life to saving endangered species.

Rebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

Taking cost of her household’s wildlife park on the age of simply 20, she was the first-ever feminine President of the Nationwide Zoo Affiliation in 2016 and has taken on numerous excessive challenges within the title of conservation.

Daring exploits which have raised greater than £35,000 in help of anti-poaching initiatives in Sumatra embody swimming within the English Channel (and being attacked by jellyfish), climbing Kilimanjaro, trekking 40km by Sumatra’s Kerinci -Seblat Nationwide Park (eradicating tiger snares) and finishing the Isle of Wight 106km Extremely Problem.

Not even the pandemic might dampen Rebecca’s willpower as she got down to run a half marathon at Shepreth Wildlife Park to have fun her fortieth birthday and lift £16,000. So the place does this dynamic come from?

“My dad instilled a really robust work ethic in my brother Nick and I,” Rebecca enthuses. “My mother is wonderful too; she ran the London Marathon just a few years in the past and she or he’s in her 60s. So I feel we’re simply very energetic folks!”

Rebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park.  Image: Keith HeppellRebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

Rebecca’s father Terry purchased a bit of land in Shepreth to construct properties in 1979, however the household started rescuing animals and by 1984 had supplied sanctuary to so many animals that they determined to open the Willers Mill Wild Animal Sanctuary.

“Jack, an injured jackdaw, was our first rescue, however we ended up with so many animals as a result of my mother and father rescued them from site visitors accidents, so deer, badgers, foxes, together with unique animals that folks did not need to go dwelling. ‘ Rebekah explains.

Rising up on the sanctuary, she has fond reminiscences of dwelling (actually) alongside the animals: “I keep in mind we lived for some time with an emu within the kitchen and on the prime of the steps a kinkajou (honey bear) had,” she remembers.

Though Rebecca’s profession path initially took her into journal journalism, she continued to stay and work within the wildlife park. And never lengthy after her twentieth birthday, when the park supervisor left, her father and brother requested if she would take the position.

“I did not have to consider it; I hit it!” She smiles. “I used to be thrown in on the deep finish, however I’ve no regrets. I have been doing this for 21 years now and I completely like it.”

Rebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park.  Image: Keith HeppellRebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

Below Rebecca’s management, the main target of the zoo, renamed Shepreth Wildlife Park, has shifted to conservation, schooling and analysis. She launched her beloved Sumatran tigers (that are critically endangered within the wild because of unlawful poaching) and joined BIAZA (the British and Irish Affiliation of Zoos and Aquariums) and EAZA (the European Affiliation of Zoos).

“It was a essential second once we met our colleagues and explored the position of zoos,” she explains. “So we moved away from the thought of ​​Shepreth as a daytime attraction and centered extra on his position in schooling, conservation and analysis, which is now on the coronary heart of every little thing we do.”

At the moment, 40 % of Shepreth’s animal inhabitants consists of endangered species, together with the maned wolf, purple panda, clouded leopard, capuchin monkey and ibis. The checklist of endangered species is depressingly lengthy – however Rebecca and her crew have performed a significant position in elevating funds and elevating consciousness to fight the decline of those extraordinary species.

Rebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park.  Image: Keith HeppellRebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

In 2011 they based the Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity (SWCC) and in November 2012 began the SWCC Hedgehog Hospital which has saved greater than 5,000 injured hedgehogs.

By way of numerous initiatives – together with well-liked tiger and panda days – the park and SWCC have raised an unbelievable £500,000 to help the Hedgehog Hospital and conservation organizations worldwide, together with the Purple Panda Community and the Wildcat Conservation Alliance.

“To have raised half one million kilos by the age of 10 is simply unbelievable,” muses Rebecca. “It is so rewarding to have the ability to make such optimistic modifications.”

To mark the charity’s tenth anniversary, the SWCC Hedgehog Hospital Charity Ball might be held on Saturday nineteenth November at King’s Faculty, Cambridge. With a luxurious dinner, leisure and fascinating speeches, the ball will elevate funds for a brand new conservation heart to help the Hedgehog Hospital.

Rebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park.  Image: Keith HeppellRebecca Willers at Shepreth Wildlife Park. Picture: Keith Heppell

Rebecca, who shouldn’t be afraid of journey, is personally marking the milestone by taking up 10 new challenges in hopes of elevating £10,000. “I’ve determined to go excessive so my challenges would be the Welsh Three Peaks with my mum, the Yorkshire Three Peaks with the crew I hiked the Sumatran jungle with and the Welsh 3000s which would be the hardest , embody.

“It is the 15 highest peaks in Wales and we’re attempting to hit that in lower than 24 hours, so a part of that might be at midnight.”

[Read more: Hedgehogs injured by garden strimmers and toxic chemicals treated at Shepreth]

Rebecca can even climb 24 peaks within the Lake District over two days, run a marathon across the zoo on Purple Panda Day and hike round 15 days in September on Corsica’s 180km GR20, which climbs to 12,000 metres.

“My closing problem, the one I dread essentially the most, is a piano recital for family and friends!” she confides. “I have not performed since I used to be 10 and I like Ludovico Einaudi, so I need to be taught to play I Giorni, which is sort of a protracted piece.” It is a tall order, but when somebody has the braveness and willpower to achieve success, then it is Rebecca!

Discover out extra about Shepreth Wildlife Park’s tenth anniversary occasions at sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk.