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Enabling conservation with Ryan Eddowes

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“Above all, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t!”

Ryan Eddowes (pronouns: he/him) was a safari guide and herpetologist currently based in the UK. He has achieved all of this whilst managing a mobility condition he was born with called bilateral talipes (also known as clubfoot). 

In the world of conservation, where the call of the wild beckons and the desire to protect our planet’s biodiversity runs deep, there are often barriers that hinder individuals from pursuing their passion. But for Ryan Eddowes, a Zoologist specializing in reptiles and amphibians, overcoming physical limitations has been an integral part of his remarkable journey. Here, we delve into Ryan’s inspiring story, exploring how he defied expectations, pursued his dreams, and became a driving force for change in the conservation industry.

Enabling conservation with Ryan Eddowes | #itsawildlife

RYAN’S JOURNEY: EMBRACING PASSION AGAINST ALL ODDS

Ryan’s journey began with a childhood dream to study the natural world, despite being born with bilateral talipes, a condition that affects mobility. Despite discouragement from medical experts, Ryan pursued his passion, starting with animal care studies at Robaston College and later earning a degree in zoology from Bangor University. His determination led him to explore the globe, filming wildlife in diverse ecosystems and discovering his love for wildlife filmmaking and presenting.

“While at university, I got to travel the world – filming the big 5 in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Then to Tenerife where I got to film whales and dolphins in the wild. So, I found my passion for wildlife filmmaking and wildlife presenting.”

Since graduating, Ryan started working at West Midlands Safari Park as a minibus safari tour guide.

“I drive the Land Rovers, and take people to feed lions and tigers and rhinos and giraffes. So amazing!”

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

“It’s been an amazing journey, and all because I ignored the medical advice of doctors and now I’ve had over a decade’s worth of experience with animals, thanks to that!”

Ryan’s experience highlights the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in the conservation field. From inaccessible job environments to societal misconceptions, he encountered numerous obstacles. He shares – 

“When it comes to looking for jobs in conservation, you find a lot of barriers when it comes to your physical disability…”

“Most conservation field jobs involve a multitude of different physical tasks. For someone like myself, who’s got a lot of experience, I’m more than happy to try and get to things where I can. 

“Obviously because of my physical limitations, there are some things I can’t do – but that doesn’t take away from the fact of who I am as a person – and that I am more than capable of educating people about the importance of conservation and the wonders of nature”

However, Ryan’s resilience and advocacy for inclusivity have paved the way for change. He emphasizes the importance of conversations and understanding individual needs to make conservation more accessible to all, regardless of physical or mental abilities. He shares – 

“It can be quite restrictive when it comes to jobs in conservation. But because of my passion for wildlife and the natural world, I want to make sure that it doesn’t matter who you are as a person and what disability or physical appearance you have – hidden or otherwise – you should always have access to progress and, opportunities to make that difference in conservation.”

“I’m an advocate for pushing those boundaries and making conservation more accessible for people like myself.”

ENABLING CONSERVATION

Making conservation more accessible is an important and long-overdue conversation that is finally being given some air time! There are so many disabilities out there, mental physical and otherwise, and Ryan shares that while he doesn’t expect companies to have an understanding of each one, it’s important to have a conversation to explore the options and challenges on an individual basis. He explains – 

“It’s just a sit-down conversation, (not a patronizing one!) to discuss what processes are in place to allow us to come forward and see where we can make that difference”

For Ryan, policies can be a bit strict and rigid in their application – which can be hard to apply to the variety of disabilities out there. Instead, a simple conversation is often the most powerful tool to reach the optimal outcome for everyone. Ryan says – 

“I think it’s all about having open conversations with the individual to understand the needs of that individual.”

THE LIFE OF A ZOO SAFARI GUIDE

As an educator and tour guide, Ryan recognizes the pivotal role of education in fostering conservation awareness. He believes in opening pathways for aspiring conservationists, emphasizing the diverse career opportunities within the field. From pet shop management to wildlife filmmaking, Ryan encourages individuals to pursue their interests and contribute to global conservation efforts.

Drawing from his experience as a tour guide, Ryan shares valuable insights into the qualities that define excellence in the role. Charisma, empathy, and a genuine passion for wildlife are essential traits for connecting with diverse audiences. He highlights the importance of fostering a welcoming environment where guests feel comfortable asking questions and engaging with nature.

EMPOWERING OTHERS AND EMBRACING OPPORTUNITIES

Throughout his journey, Ryan has remained steadfast in his belief that anyone can make a difference in conservation. He encourages aspiring conservationists to defy expectations, take calculated risks, and seize every opportunity that comes their way. By sharing his experiences and creating his opportunities, Ryan exemplifies the transformative power of passion and perseverance.

Ryan’s journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who dare to pursue their dreams against all odds. Through his advocacy, resilience, and dedication to conservation, Ryan continues to inspire others to break barriers, embrace their passions, and protect the natural world for generations to come.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Want to hear more from Ryan? Tune into the podcast or follow him on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Ryan is also a blogger on Conservation Careers so you can check out his work here. What do you think? why not let us know or follow along for the adventure!

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