With a zoological career spanning 38 years, Bernard Harrison has practically become synonymous with the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) Group, one of the finest and most profitable zoological institutions in the world. The WRS boasted a net profit of US$10 million in2009, and operates the Singapore Zoological Gardens, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park. Bernard’s innovative ideas, such as the open concept of animal display have brought the Singapore zoo to international acclaim.
Bernard has always grown up surrounded by animals and pets, following his father, a prominent British zoologist, on numerous trips into the Malaysian rainforest, exploring its abundant flora and fauna. This sparked him to do his undergraduate studies in animal behaviour and his master’s degree in zoo planning. When he failed the essay-writing component in his job interview for the post of Executive Officer, he started off as a humble Assistant Administrative Officer at the Singapore Zoo. Through his dedication, he soon rose through the ranks as Curator, Assistant Director and became Executive Director. Over time, he was affectionately known as the ‘friendly bohemian Tarzan: boss of the Singapore Zoo’. He went on to conceive new ideas such as the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, the Fragile Forest and the famed Night Safari, which he was awarded American Creativity Associations’ Champion of Creativity Award for in 2008.
His last zoo position at WRS was as Chief Executive Officer, alongside his executive director duties, which he resigned from in 2002. Since, he’s set up his own consultancy which focuses on the development and sustainable operation of zoological and botanic gardens, national parks, and eco-tourism attractions.
Bernard has also been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award 2010, South East Asian Zoos Association for his work with the organisation, spanning 20 years, and the Outstanding Science Alumni Award from the National University of Singapore in 2007 for his work at WRS.
As the host of a wildlife conservation awareness slot on Discovery Channel for many years called ‘Ask Bernard’, Bernard speaks personably and with great passion and knowledge. He has given inspiration and motivation talks to a variety of clients, spanning from Jones Lang LaSalle, Marriot Hotels, IBM and Singapore Institute of Management to name a few. His tailored talks are different, lateral in their thought processes, both challenges and stimulates the audience. He also speaks regularly at business conferences.