Sydney Zoo | Craig Sowden
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Craig Sowden

General Manager Life Sciences

Craig was previously Director of Operations at South East Asia Aquarium, in Singapore for over four years – one of the world’s newest and largest animal facilities, where he was responsible for approximately 130 curatorial staff. His role covered all aspects of management, including animal husbandry through to sales and marketing. He brings with him a strong conservation, education and display ethic that has always been a strong feature in the facilities where he has worked.

From 1987, Craig was employed to play a key role in building and stocking the Sydney Aquarium and preparing it for opening. His skills with the handling and husbandry of animals and his understanding of the needs of aquatic animals were paramount to the success of the Sydney Aquarium. He was employed at the Sydney Aquarium for twenty-two years, which saw him ultimately assuming the role of General Manager of Life Sciences.

Some of his significant achievements during that period include a key role in designing and building the second stage of the Sydney Aquarium which included a seal oceanarium, Great Barrier Reef oceanarium, platypus and penguin displays, as well as many other associated animal habitats. He was also instrumental in the creation and development of the Sydney Aquarium Conservation Fund which is an independent organisation devoted to funding research and conservation initiatives.

The next phase in Craig’s career was the expansion of the Sydney Aquarium Company which saw the company buying out Manly Oceanworld in the mid-90s and with Craig involved in managing and starting the development of Sydney Wildlife World – a new major terrestrial fauna park that was situated in the Sydney CBD between 2003 and 2008. He designed all display and husbandry aspects of this fauna park, from the exhibits to all the back-of-house facilities. Craig was awarded a Master’s Degree in Aquaculture from Deakin University in 2007.

Through decades of experience, Craig has built strong industry connections both locally and internationally. He was the President of the New South Wales Fauna and Marine Parks Association in 2008. He also acted as the industry representative on the scientific shark summit as well as the Exhibited Animals Protection Act Committee for the NSW Department of Agriculture in 2006 and 2008 respectively. Between 2003 and 2008, he worked closely with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy while designing and stocking Sydney Wildlife World.

Some of the other organisations that Craig has worked with to coordinate research and conservation programs, include Conservation International, WWF, Traffic, Manta Trust, Shark Savers and the Australia Conservation Foundation. He also regularly attends local and international conferences such as the Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Zoo and Aquarium Association annual conferences to maintain networks and to acquire the industry’s leading-edge knowledge.