David Hancocks, Director Weribee Open Range Zoo, Executive Director Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Director Woodland Park Zoo
"Jake is a rare being in the zoo world: a thoughtful and articulate man with a strong mix of practical experience, a deep knowledge of applied ethology, and a very high regard for animal welfare. He has much to contribute towards the improvement of zoos for animals, for staff (notably, I suspect, keepers, curators, marketing, and education staff), and for visitors."
Professor Georgia Mason, Canada Research Chair in Animal Welfare, University of Guelph, Ontario
"Making a real difference for captive animals involves the objective, evidence-based assessment and improvement of their welfare: making decisions that are informed by the head -- not just the heart -- ensures they get the best husbandry and care. Jake is a champion of this approach, and Calgary Zoo is truly lucky to have lured him from the UK. I had the pleasure of working with Jake on the welfare of zoo elephants, and have always found him to be passionate about zoo animal welfare and conservation."
David A. Field, Zoological Director, Zoological Society of London
“Jake Veasey is a highly accomplished zoo professional and passionate about animal welfare. Jake has designed and implemented some of the most innovative care facilities for many species including rhinos, antelopes and elephants. We worked closely on many projects including the UK Governments Zoos Forum where Jake was one of the welfare experts and therefore I can say with confidence that the Calgary Zoo is very fortunate to have obtained the services of someone with Jake’s credentials.”
Chris Webster, Deputy Executive Chairman, Yorkshire Wildlife Park Ltd, CEO Woburn Safari Park
"Jake is one of the most exciting and dynamic zoo professionals that I have encountered in almost twenty-five years in the sector. He has extremely strong academic credentials. This knowledge he can apply in the most refreshingly creative and practical way into designs for new animal housing and exhibits. In his ten plus years at Woburn Safari Park, whilst I was CEO, the collection and the infrastructure supporting it was fundamentally “re-designed and re-engineered”.
Jake is the sort of zoological director who gets out onto the ground and rolls his sleeves up. Through working alongside animal carers Jake has a very sound knowledge of what works for the staff as opposed to just what is good for the animals. He has excellent communication skills and quickly builds empathy and trust; people respect him. This creates the optimum environment to establish a brief and to develop a concept into a practical design with a teams input when required. His temperament also took him frequently onto the building sites as the new houses and exhibits went up. This has given Jake good insights into the practicalities of construction and the interdependency of the different construction disciplines.
At Woburn we put great emphasis on the quality of the guest experience as repeat visitation, education, entertainment and positive word of mouth underpinned the business model. Jake made a major contribution to the former, not only through thinking of ways to better display the animals but also in positively moving forward the animal staff culture in this respect. Jake also quickly understood the numbers so his concepts and designs were always well grounded in terms of affordability and delivering value. He is both a visionary and a strategist, he can look at an exhibit in isolation but he never did so without thinking about the future (improving husbandry and knowledge, visitor expectation, employment legislation etc) and the context of the entire collection (visitor flows, efficiencies, economy of scale, mission).
In short Jake is knowledgeable and stays abreast of developments in the industry. He is well travelled and experienced, he knows what works and what is practical. Finally, he is very creative and refreshing to work with. Some of the animal housing design at Woburn is now ten or more years old but it is still cutting edge compared to what else is out there, Jake’s designs stand the test of time. It is for this reason Yorkshire Wildlife Park engaged Jake in the formative Master & Collection Planning process pre-opening. The Park attracted 353,000 visitors in 2012, its third full year after opening."
Julia Hanuliakova, Owner Architect Zoo Design, Senior Associate Protico Group, Associate Jones & Jones
"I met Dr. Jake Veasey when he presented for zoo designers at an architectural office in Seattle. He spoke about designing zoos for animal welfare derived from knowledge of the evolutionary heritage of species. His presentation was engaging, illustrative, and humorous. He placed animal welfare at the center of our efforts, and pointed us towards the possibility of creating new meaningful engagements between visitors and animals, based on knowledge of behavioral history and interactions between animals. Jake’s presentation strongly influenced my career, as I realized the possibility of a more sincere approach to designing zoos, emphasizing collaboration between scientists, practitioners, and designers.
Later, Jake and I worked together on a design of a lemur exhibit at a major North American zoo. Jake provided theoretical and practical background, vision and inspiration for the project. From the very beginning and throughout the design process I appreciated his ability to communicate very clearly guiding ideas for the design, as well as important details. He came to meetings prepared with photographs, technical drawing, and reports collected throughout his career. His vision evolved as new facts and relationships were discovered, yet he kept clarity of the goals and focus of the team intact. In a collaborative team process, Jake is quick to recognize and elaborate ideas worth pursuing, no matter who contributes them. His input can be defined as strategic; his comments are direct, constructive and tactful. Expect great things."
Annna Ryder Richardson, Owner Manor House Wildlifde Park, TV presenter, designer
Jake's vision for what a zoo of the future should be has guided us in all we do since buying Manor House Wildlife Park. Jake has encourgaged us to focus on providing the best possible home for our animals and ensuring they are able to play a meaningful conservation role in inspiring our visitors and in supporting conservation breeding programmes. As a designer and businesswoman, I have also been immensly impressed with Jake's design and business skills, something I had not expected in a highly respected zoologisit! He has an instinct for design both in terms of what animals need and also in terms of what works for our visitors and he has also been very strategic in the developlment of our masterplan; ensuring projects deliver the return on investment needed to allow us to progress to the next stage of our zoo's development. We have been lucky to work alongside Jake and I couldn't recommend him more!
Sarah Forsyth, Senior Curator Colchester Zoo
"I have worked alongside Jake for five years and have witnessed first-hand Jake’s aptitude for innovative animal enclosure design as well as his leadership of a major zoological department in a large zoo. Jake has the ability to design animal enclosures that ensure the best welfare needs of the species through his extensive understanding and experience of animal welfare, animal behaviour and zoo management. By truly understanding the needs of the species he is designing for, Jake is able to be innovative rather than simply copying existing zoo designs. His designs ensure animals are provided with sufficient space, an optimal layout and enclosure furnishings that meet all their behavioural needs including allowing animals to find social separation from their group mates when needed and to allow them to exhibit natural activities whilst at the same time ensuring the best possible viewing for visitors.
Jake’s designs also allow keepers to manage animals and facilities efficiently and effectively and his knowledge of inter species interactions enable him to successfully design for ambitious mixed species exhibits in which new animals can be introduced in a safe controlled manner. This allows diverse exhibits to be established and breeding recommendations to be achieved through introductions which are safe for both animals and the staff managing them. His designs allow natural grouping’s of animals which encourages essential breeding even with species that are known to be challenging in other facilities and allows animal collections to contribute effectively to ex-situ conservation. Overall Jake’s designs meet all the requirements of a zoo exhibit from animal welfare to staff management and visitor experience. He has proven he can do this with smaller than expected budgets that still give the impression of high end investment by focusing on those elements which give the greatest return within the constraints of the budget."