It takes a certain kind of love of animals to be the Director of the Education and Conservation team at the Marine Life Park; it is a whole other level to hug animals even when you’re allergic to them. Introducing Biswajit Guha, a man who has worked with animals for nearly two decades – despite being allergic to feline saliva. He shares with us his passion, his work and why he would love to be the “Reverso Ranger”.
1. What goes on in your typical work day?
A lot of my time now is spent strategizing how to approach conservation and education issues, meeting potential partners, and planning activities. I also look at the animals in MLP to spot potential conservation and education opportunities.
2. What is your biggest challenge at work?
Making conservation simple to understand and getting people to want to make a difference.
3. What motivates you?
A desire to make a positive difference in this world. As a team, we celebrate every success, and always remember the ‘a-ha!’ moment when we’ve learnt something amazing and try to share that with guests.
4. What sparked your love for animals?
As a child, I would hug our house cats, rabbits and guinea pigs – even though I was allergic to them. This developed into a keen interest for biodiversity and in university, I became captivated by invertebrates (animals without backbones), like the horseshoe crab and tarantula. That millions of years had gone by yet these animals are still here on earth, is a strong reminder that every species is special and should be cared for, protected and preserved.
5. What trait do you value most?
I value selflessness and integrity.
6. How do you unwind?
I read about animals and Asian cultures or laze on the balcony listening to Class 95 FM.
7. Who is your favourite artiste?
One of my favourites is Beyonce because she looks great, makes wonderful music for the young and the young at heart. Her music video ‘Single Ladies’ made the Solid Gold era fashionable again.
8. What is your guilty pleasure?
Food – rich, spicy and flavourful foods, although I’m no longer guilty, because your body eventually settles into a shape it’s comfortable with.
9. What would you see yourself doing if you are not in this job?
Probably working in a natural history or anthropology museum.
10. If you are a superhero, what is your super power?
I am Reverso Ranger! I have the ability to reverse what has been done to its original state. That way we can start over and use the Earth’s resources more wisely.
11. Who or what is your greatest influence in life?
I have several heroes: my mother who supported me through my decision to wield a broom and dustpan to clean up animal dung; and two local conservationists – Prof Tommy Koh and Prof Leo Tan. They showed me that you should stand up for what you believe in through persuasion; the effects are more permanent and impactful.
12. One thing most people don’t know about you is…
I am extremely clumsy, and have sprained both ankles while hiking up a mountain in Vietnam to check on the habitat and protection efforts for a rare species of monkey. It was quite a painful experience then but looking back, it was quite funny to think how two small-sized and slim guides were supporting this one large man that’s probably double their size. Boy, were they strong!
What is the Education and Conservation Team?
The Conservation Team
Currently an impressive two-woman team, they work with various partners to advance conservation and protection of marine, coastal and freshwater ecosystems in Singapore and Southeast Asia. They also administer the Marine Life Conservation Fund. In addition, they coordinate and facilitate conservation events like public awareness campaigns on marine conservation issues. A large part of their efforts will be channeled into facilitating research work by students and external partners in conjunction with the Aquarist, Marine Mammal, Life Support System and Veterinary teams at MLP.
The Education Team
The team develops and delivers education programmes and aims to instill an appreciation for science and a respect for living things through experiential and inquiry-based learning journeys. From nursery to tertiary levels, families and the general public, the education programmes are designed and delivered such that content, learning objectives and outcomes are localized and have a strong relevance to school curriculum.
Watch this blog for updates as we inch closer to the opening of the Marine Life Park later this year.